“You Are Not Alone.” That’s the tagline for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) campaign this year. NAMI is focusing on the healing value of connecting in safe ways, prioritizing mental health and acknowledging that it’s okay to not be okay, which seems especially apropos during the pandemic.
If you spend much time on social media or listen to podcasts, you may already be aware that May is designated as Mental Health Awareness Month (MHAM). The goal is to raise awareness of those living with mental or behavioral health issues and help reduce the stigma surrounding those issues.
Mental health defined
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is a state of wellbeing in which an individual “can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community. Mental health is fundamental to our collective and individual ability as humans to think, emote, interact with each other, earn a living and enjoy life.”
Mental health is more than the “absence of a mental illness”—it’s essential to your overall health and quality of life and affects emotional, psychological and social wellbeing.
In the U.S., anxiety disorders are the most prevalent form of mental illness, followed by major depressive episodes, post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and schizophrenia.
Mental health affects physical health (and vice versa)
Mental health is an integral part of overall health. It also affects physical health, and can lead to a weakened immune system, high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, diabetes, and even negatively impact life expectancy.
For example, anxiety and depression often manifest as sleep disturbances — either sleeping too much or not enough. Sleep disorders can cause physical and emotional fatigue, irritability, poor memory recall, and real tangible pain (muscle tension, headaches, stomach issues, inflammation).
One thing that’s often overlooked is that it works both ways. Chronic physical medical conditions contribute to a higher risk of depression and anxiety. Scientists don’t fully understand the direct correlation; nonetheless, the connection is there.
By the numbers
Millions of people (adults, teens and children) struggle with a mental illness each year. In communications-related industries (marketing, PR, advertising) mental health and wellbeing account for a significant amount of lost productivity at work. It also impacts key performance indicators (KPIs) and business outcomes.
- In 2019, more than 51 million adults in the U.S. experienced some form of mental illness — that’s one out of every 5 adults.
- Depression and anxiety disorders alone cost the global economy $1 trillion in lost productivity each year.
- Mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.
- Mental health is cited as the main reason for over half (51%) of calls to the NABS support organization, followed by low mood and confidence (20%) and work pressures (16%) in the U.K.
- 42% of global employees experienced a decline in their mental health since the pandemic started.
- A post-pandemic survey of leisure and business travelers found 70% of U.S. respondents expressing concerns about stress.
- Over 9 million U.S. adults with mental illness also experienced substance abuse in 2019.
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., and the suicide rate has increased by 35% in the last decade.
- In 2020, the number of people seeking help with anxiety and depression skyrocketed.
Organizations and companies help themselves by promoting wellness among their employees. NAMI breaks it down to three primary areas:
- Easy access to healthcare and services—health insurance that provides benefits for mental health conditions, employee assistance programs (EAP), wellness programs or incentives, telehealth access, clear policies.
- Check-in on your loved ones—encourage open dialogue, ensure privacy and confidentiality, educate, schedule regular check-ins one-on-one and collectively.
- Encourage movement—exercise, brief walks, yoga, going outdoors, stretching, meditation, dance. Science shows the mind and body are intimately connected.
Holistic Mental Health Care
Focusing on your wellness is what we do best! We combine an approach that focuses on the therapeutic power of counseling & lifestyle changes, paired with medication when necessary. Contact us today for an appointment!