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World Mental Health Day: Increasing Access to Mental Wellbeing Support 

October 5, 2020 / Corporate Wellness

Written By: Jordan Dunne

Since 1992, World Mental Health Day has been observed on October 10th, a day dedicated to raising awareness about mental health issues and prompting change in the way we address and treat mental illness. This year, this mission feels more important than it ever has.  

Mental health has been historically underfunded and undertreated. Less than half of people living with mental illness receive treatmentbut recent events have instilled a sense of urgency to address this rapidly growing concern. The World Economic Forum predicts that mental health disorders—which are proliferating in every country—could cost the global economy $16 trillion dollars in the twenty years between 2010 and 2030.   

We are facing an international mental health crisis, exacerbated by the global COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters and civil unrest experienced around the world.  

“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 

More than half of Americans report that the stress, anxiety and uncertainty of COVID-19, compounded by social isolation and a rapid change in routine, has negatively impacted their mental health. 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 wellbeing, decreasing motivation to prioritize self-care and further worsening overall health.  

“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 wellbeing of their workforce and the community at large.  

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 wellbeing tools by sending out an email blast or company-wide message through your 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. 

While these initiatives take time and careful planning to execute correctly, your organization can start by sharing preexisting information and resources on mental health management. To help you get started, we’re highlighting some of our COVID-19 mental wellbeing resources.  

  • Dr. Laurie Santos shares her expert insight on the positive impact that happiness and gratitude can have on our mental health and the world around us during difficult times in this tip sheet. For a deeper dive into the science behind happiness in times of stress, check out her full THRIVEx replay. 
  • Hear how San Luis Valley Health helped their employees prioritize wellbeing and manage their mental and emotional health from home through the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Our medical experts, Dr. David C. Batman and Dr. Gary Smithson, answer your questions surrounding mental health and COVID-19 in this webinar replay. 
  • Examine the health impacts of social isolation and learn strategies on how to reduce the negative effects of loneliness in this expert quick read, or take a closer look at the health risks associated with isolation in this webinar replay. 

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

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 with a comprehensive digital wellbeing platform. Learn more about our solutions and request a demo today.   

 

About The Author

Jordan Dunne is 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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