This week, October 3-9, is mental illness awareness week. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 1 in 5 American adults experiences mental illness each year, but most do not get treatment. That number means that for many businesses, somebody in your organization or at your clients' is dealing with some form of mental illness.Part of the reason that this awareness week exists is to help reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness, because that stigma can cause people to avoid seeking treatment that could actually help.
The most common mental illness class are the anxiety disorders, which affect 19.1% of the adult population, and this is followed by major depressive episodes and PTSD.
What You Can Do
As a business leader, it’s obviously not your job to be a mental health counsellor, or anything of that nature. But there are steps you can take to help your employees.
For one, recognize that it’s not the person’s fault – nobody would choose to go that. Removing that concept of fault is a big step towards having an open dialogue and removing the stigma that surrounds mental illness.
The second thing is to be open to conversation. It’s more than just having an open door policy; being willing to listen and to work with your employees to accommodate is part of the deal. The pandemic has increased the incidence of mental health episodes, so it’s worth being aware that increased stress can make things worse for people who are otherwise awesome employees.
The third thing is the provision of support. To the extent that it’s possible to provide some amount of counselling allowance in your health plan, that can make a real difference. Mental health is part of overall health.
To learn more about Mental Illness Awareness Week, visit nami.org