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It’s Mental Health Awareness Month: Let’s Eliminate the Stigma and Increase Access to Support

May 5, 2021 / Corporate Wellness

Written By: Jordan Dunne

Four in ten adults in the U.S. express symptoms of an anxiety or depressive disorder. Yet, less than half of the 51.5 million adults with mental illness received treatment in the past year.  

Mental health disorders are one of the most expensive medical conditions affecting U.S. populations today. The World Economic Forum predicts that mental health disorders—which are proliferating every country—could cost the global economy $16 trillion dollars in the twenty years between 2010 and 2030. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the mental health crisis, increasing the mental health burden across the globe.  

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to shed light on the impact mental illness is having on individuals and institutions worldwide, increase access to support services, and eliminate the stigma. This year, this mission feels more important than ever.  

“We are already seeing the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on people’s mental well-being, and this is just the beginning. Unless we make serious commitments to scale up investment in mental health right now, the health, social and economic consequences will be far-reaching.”  

– Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization 

The Lasting Impacts of Mental Health  

More than half of Americans report that the stress and uncertainty of COVID-19, compounded by social isolation and a rapid change in routine, has negatively impacted their mental health. Today, 9 in 10 employees report some level of anxiety, impacting their ability to perform at work leading to absenteeism and presenteeism. This can have serious physical health consequences as well. According to Dr. David L. Katz, poor mental health can increase the risk of developing or ineffectively managing chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. What’s worse, the onset of chronic disease further impacts mental health, decreasing motivation to prioritize self-care and further worsening overall health. According to the CDC these comorbidities increase healthcare costs by 200-300%. 

“You cannot separate physical and mental health. We should just talk about health because the two go hand-in-hand.” – Dr. David C. Batman, Virgin Pulse Institute 

It’s time for us to change our perception of mental illness. We must eliminate the stigma associated with diagnosis and treatment while simultaneously increasing access to affordable mental healthcare services. While this undertaking might feel out of reach for many organizationsinstitutions can initiate local change by supporting the mental health of their workforce and the community at large.  

Support in the Workplace 

Employers can start by promoting acceptance and increasing access to resources to help their workforce better manage their mental health. Communication is key here—raise awareness of existing mental health tools by sending out an email blast or company-wide message through your health and wellbeing app to alert them of available partners and resources. Kicking off a company-wide challenge that centers around mindfulness, stress management or work-life balance is another great way to help your employees acknowledge and improve their mental wellbeing while increasing socialization and engagement at work. Providing and encouraging the use of one-on-one telephonic health coaching is also a highly accessible approach to supporting unique mental and emotional health needs tailored to each person across your population. 

Grounded in the science of behavior change, Virgin Pulse’s unified, simplified Homebase for Health® addresses five key areas of mental health: 

  • Stress 
  • Depression and anxiety 
  • Sleep 
  • Substance use 
  • Resilience 

Through a high-touch and high-tech approach that spans digital engagement, live human support services, and a diverse network of specialized digital health partners and apps, Virgin Pulse’s robust solution connects members to the right intervention at the right time to tackle the top mental health needs of employee and health plan member populations today. Easily accessible within our AI-driven digital wellbeing platform, users are given personalized suggestions for features like oneon-one health coachingdigital therapeutics, social tools, and partner resources to help them achieve optimal mental and holistic wellbeing when they need it most. 

The Time is Now 

There’s no better time than now to help your employees where they need it most. Leverage Mental Health Awareness Month to initiate a long-running mental wellbeing awareness campaign within your organization. 

Help your employees manage stress, find better work-life balance, stay connected with their peers, and boost their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing through and beyond COVID-19. Learn more about our digital health and wellbeing solutions and request a demo today.   


About The Author

Jordan Dunne is a copywriter and editor on the marketing team at Virgin Pulse, focusing on social strategy and health and wellbeing content. Outside of work, you can find her at the gym, hosting trivia, taking photos of food, or snuggling up on the couch with her dogs.

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