As a behavioral health consulting practice, we understand the impact that mental health can have on your life and well being—at work, in your relationships, on yourself. A large amount of stigma still exists around mental illness and talking about mental health. Mental health discussions are often swept under the rug even as many people in the public eye have brought more awareness to it over the last few years. The passing of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade coupled by other tragic events have brought concerns about mental health and mental illness into the forefront of public awareness. Even with this increased awareness, many continue to struggle with how to support themselves and others with impacts of mental illness on their well being.
According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately 1 in 5 adults, or 43.8 million people experience mental illness each year, and approximately 1 in 25 adults experience a severe mental illness that substantially interferes or limits one or more major life activities. In a study of adolescents in 2001-2004, (NAMI) approximately 1 in 5 youth ages 13-18 experienced a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., and the second leading cause of death for people aged 10-34 years old. More than 90% of people who die by suicide show symptoms of a mental health condition.
The statistics don’t lie—mental health issues are a very serious problem. By having open, honest discussions about mental health, checking in on our own mental health and the mental health of our loved ones, we can continue to bring more awareness to mental health and help normalize it. Below are some things you can do to check in on your own mental health, and how your EAP can help support you and your family members.
Do a Mental Health Check Up
Liz Ferron, Physician Practice Lead, Senior Consultant and VITAL WorkLife says "Regular mental health checks are important because many of the symptoms of depression or anxiety disorders come on so gradually that you might not be aware how much the condition is affecting your daily life.”
Ferron believes part of the reason people don't have time to reflect on their personal health and well being is that their lives and their minds are simply too busy. "People are pushing themselves, or being pushed to do more with less, in every sphere of their lives."
Mental Health Symptoms
You can also look out for certain symptoms in yourself or others:
- Headaches, backaches, stomach aches (not accounted for by a medical condition)
- Negativity or cynicism
- Difficulty setting limits or boundaries with time and resources
- Negative feedback from people at home or at work
- Difficulty concentrating or staying focused on tasks
- Unusual levels of anger, frustration or resentment
- Overindulgence related to food, spending, drugs or alcohol
- Difficulty balancing work and family responsibilities
A practical—and free—alternative for mental health checkups is available to you as part of your EAP benefit. Ferron notes that one business owner comes in annually for a checkup and encourages his employees to do the same. He says, "Why would I think I don't need to take care of my mental health the same way I take care of my physical health? It doesn't make sense. I regularly suggest my employees contact VITAL WorkLife to get an objective perspective about their work and personal life, even if they just need to vent about something. It is well worth their time and my money to have the program available. If my employees aren't mentally healthy, then my business suffers."
Your EAP can serve a valuable role in ensuring you and your family get the help they need to combat mental health issues. It addresses all the barriers to seeking and obtaining the help people need:
- It's confidential—there's no stigma to fear. Our counselors help individuals seeking help to understand that seeking help is far preferable to suffering in silence. Although your sessions are provided as a resource through you or your family member’s employer, no information from your session will be shared without your consent.
- Mental health information and resources are also available on your Member Site, including information on the many forms mental illness can take, and the importance of treating it quickly and appropriately.
- It's no-cost to you and your family. Sometimes issues can be resolved within the context of EAP—which is valuable for everyone, but especially those without insurance coverage, or with high deductibles. For more complex cases beyond the scope of EAP, our counselors work with the client to find affordable, in-network (for those with health insurance) resources to ensure that individuals get the help they need—and that it's the right kind of help. This saves both time and money and provides peace of mind to those who are concerned about access.
We Can Help
MEMBERS:Are mental health issues impacting you or any of your loved ones? Contact us at 800.383.1908 or through your VITAL WorkLife App to get the help you need. You do not need to suffer alone, and help is available to you as part of your EAP benefit.