Today is an exciting day! As you may have seen from my last blog post, I will be making a special announcement today, October 10th, from 3:00 to 3:00 EDT. Tune in to the Facebook Live broadcast at facebook.com/drtonyaarmstrong to participate in this extraordinary reveal!
Today’s conversation will also include commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of World Mental Health Day, which was founded by the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH). This organization, begun in 1948, recognizes the importance of educating the public about mental health and advocating for effective treatments. This year, their theme is “Mental Health in the Workplace.” A few statistics from their 2017 report demonstrate just how needed this focus is. Fifty percent of persons with depression are untreated, suggesting that the symptoms and resulting effects of depressive symptoms inevitably affect the workplace in a significant way. For example, someone experiencing depressive episodes will miss 36 workdays per episode. And when a worker is experiencing a depressive episode, 94% of the time that worker is struggling with the cognitive symptoms of depression, including difficulties with concentration, memory, and decision making. Despite these major barriers to work productivity, only 10% of the working population has taken time off for depression. Thus, it’s important to equip business managers with resources to support the development of a healthy workplace that acknowledges mental health concerns and allows for employees to receive effective treatments so that they may return to robust functioning on the job.
The WFMH offers guidelines for creating and maintaining a mental-health friendly workplace. Consider the following characteristics:
- Protects the confidentiality of employee health information
- Educates managers and supervisors on mental health issues, including signs of distress that may suggest the need for referral and evaluation
- Includes health care that responds and treats mental illnesses with the same urgency as physical illnesses
- Supports employees who require flexibility to pursue treatment, including hospitalization, leave, and gradual re-entry into the workplace
- Provides programs and practices that support health, wellness, and work-life balance
We often think of such guidelines as being the responsibility of managers, yet they also involve every member of the work organization. For example, at The Armstrong Center for Hope (www.armstrongcfh.com), we have developed a Wellness Rewards Program that allows staff members to opt into a self-monitoring program that tracks their participation in wellness activities such as fitness, nutritious eating, hydration, quality sleep, and spiritual practices. This arrangement allows for gentle group accountability, shared wisdom around managing barriers to wellness, a healthy dose of competition, and prizes along the way.
No matter what part of the office organizational chart you occupy, think creatively about ways that you can support and embody a mental health-friendly workplace. Let’s generate some ideas this afternoon. I look forward to your participation, questions, and comments during today’s Facebook Live conversation today from 3:00-3:30 pm!
À Votre Santé (“To Your Health”),
Tonya D. Armstrong, Ph.D., M.T.S.