Have you noticed what a good job your dentist does to help you maintain your dental health? After an appointment, they immediately book your 6-month follow up before you even leave the office. They provide you tools (brushes and floss) to help maintain your dental health. As the follow up appointment nears, you might receive reminder emails or texts and a personal phone call the day before.
For too many, unfortunately, our mental health maintenance is less like what our good dentist does for us and more like an engine light going on; we’re only alerted after there’s a problem.
And we know that walking around with poor mental health is not only bad for us, it’s also bad for family, friends and co-workers. It has a way of spreading and contaminating and without treatment, almost never gets better on its own.
We would no more walk around public with strep throat, coughing without covering our mouths, yet when it comes to poor mental health, it happens all too often.
Maintaining mental health is solely one’s own responsibility. But how does one do that without the benefit of dedicated office staff keeping us on the right path?
🎯Here are 5 of the best tips to maintaining your own mental health:
- Create a healthy vessel for your mental health. You can practice having good healthy thoughts all day long, but if you are storing them in an unhealthy body, you’ll be fighting against nature. First and foremost, practice getting adequate sleep, nutrition and exercise. Another great way to create a healthy vessel for your mental health is to practice meditation. Research shows just three 25-minute session a week will produce a marked reduction in stress.
- Create a healthy environment for yourself. If you are surrounded by clutter and an absence of nature, you will have an uphill battle to maintaining your mental health. Eliminating toxicity in your life where you can, and adding supportive, nurturing relationships will only strengthen your best efforts.
- Talk it out. When we talk to people who will really listen, we have a sounding board for seeing things from a different perspective and for generating new solutions. Feeling understood is a basic tenant of good mental health.
- Try journaling. There is something therapeutic about having your thoughts travel from your brain, down your arms, to your fingers and onto the page. Because it isn’t instantaneous, it gives us time to ponder and consider our thoughts. Journaling can also serve as a record to mark progress or make connections that might otherwise go unnoticed.
- Make an appointment. When in doubt, make an appointment with a qualified mental health professional. Experienced clinicians will be able to sort out and make sense out of confusion and doubt and can help put together a game plan for a mental health tune up.
How Mental Illness Affects the Workforce
$1.5 trillion every year is the cost to society of untreated anxiety and depression. The cost impact of mental illness is so great that the cost has a greater impact on economic output than cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Mental illness is the leading disability around the world. It is estimated that mental illness and substance use issues will cost employers between $79 and $105 billion each year according to the Center for Prevention and Health.
Cost impact to employers regarding mental illness:
- Increased absences from work. Studies estimate that over half of work absences are due to mental illness, not physical illness.
- Decreased productivity. Employees with mental illness have more trouble concentrating and staying on task. One study found that depression reduces cognitive performance about 35% of the time, which makes tasks take longer and leads to increased mistakes.
- Elevated healthcare costs. Untreated mental illness is directly linked to physical illness. Individuals with depression, for example, have a 40% higher risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic disease than the general population. And almost 20% of adults with mental illness also experience a drug or alcohol problem. Depression is the most costly health condition, and anxiety ranks fifth--with obesity, arthritis, and back pain in between.
What a company can do to help mitigate these costs:
Investing in the right EAP to support your employees before, during, and after they face adverse events, will help them and help you. Short- and long-term benefits of choosing the right EAP include:
- Reduced healthcare claims costs
- Improved compliance in regard to health and risk management regulations
- Increased workforce attendance and team performance
- Quicker mitigation of employee issues
- Improved people skills for your managers
- Better utilization of your HR team
Providing a good EAP isn't just the “right thing to do." It is a critical tool used to improve organizational health and total well-being.