Mental Illness Awareness Week
Each year, millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition. The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) reports that in 2018 alone 19.1% of U.S. adults experienced mental illness, that equals out to nearly 1 in 5 people. Mental illness affects everyone, whether directly or indirectly, through family, friends or coworkers and it can have a ripple effect throughout the community. Despite mental illnesses’ reach and prevalence, stigma and misunderstanding are also, unfortunately, widespread. National Mental Illness Awareness Week was created to raise awareness of mental illness, educate the public, fight stigma and provide support. Important dates during this week include:
- Mental Illness Awareness Week: October 6-12
- World Mental Health Day: October 10
- National Depression Screening Day: October 10
As an employer, you play an important role in your employees’ mental health. While mental health conditions and treatment should be discussed year-round, October 6-12 is a perfect time for your organization to highlight mental health and work to reduce stigma. One of the most important things your organization can do is simply talk about mental health facts and statistics so employees know they are not alone. This can be done through brochures, flyers, or other handouts, lunch-and-learns, digital resources, or whatever mode of communication your employees respond and relate to the most.
As stated by Harvard Business Review (HBR), “we need to have the option to ask for help, and feel safe doing so … we need more flexibility, sensitivity, and open-mindedness from employers.” Listed below are meaningful ways you can not only get involved with Mental Illness Awareness Week, but also create the flexible, sedative, and open-minded culture that employees need.
- Encourage annual mental health checkups.
- Include free on-site counseling sessions for employees and family members in your wellness program.
- Offer a course on mental health first aid either during Mental Illness Awareness Week or year-round.
- Include access to checkups and screening as part of preventive care in your benefits plan.
- Offer online resources and tools which employees can access 24/7.
For more information and tips, visit The Benefits Guide!