The mind and the body are inseparable. And you do want to engage the whole employee in your worksite wellness program, right?Most worksite wellness programs today are not really wellness programs at all – they are employee health status management programs. Why do I say this? Most worksite wellness programs focus solely on employee physical health, to the exclusion of all the other dimensions of wellness.As conceived by the modern wellness field’s founders, (Robert Allen, Donald Ardell, Halbert Dunn, Bill Hettler and John Travis), wellness is a multi-dimensional concept. The published wellness model of the National Wellness Institute includes the following dimensions: physical, social, emotional, intellectual, occupational and spiritual.Emotional well-being is associated with numerous benefits to health, family, work, and economic status. Positive emotions and view of life are associated with decreased risk for disease, illness, and injury; better immune functioning; better coping and quicker recovery; and increased longevity. In addition, mental health and mental illness may influence physical health and biologic functioning. Positive mental health is associated with better endocrine function (i.e., lower levels of cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine) and better immune response (i.e., higher antibody production and greater resistance to illness). It has also been shown to be associated with longevity.Researchers are continuing to learn more and more about the mind – body connection. It has been clearly shown that emotions play a huge role in our physical health. There is also a reciprocal relationship between many chronic diseases and mental health. Self-efficacy, goal-setting, and problem-solving enable self-management behaviors, and these components are dependent on emotional health. On the other hand, self-management behaviors that enhance health, such as physical activity and stress reduction, can improve mental health status and quality of life. In many ways, it makes no sense to address physical health without addressing emotional health at the same time.The absence of mental illness does not mean the presence of mental health. Growing research supports the view that these are independent, but related dimensions. Mental wellbeing are characterized by the presence of positive affect (e.g., optimism, cheerfulness and interest), absence of negative affect, and satisfaction with life. On the other hand, mental illness is characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior associated with distress or impaired functioning.Why Address Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace?The health of the mind and body cannot be separated. What effects one influences the other. Therefore, a healthy mind supports and contributes to a healthy body and vice versa.Mental illness costs employers money and mental health can impact productivity and employee performance. Just like physical health, mental health can be viewed as being a continuum. At one end there is mental health and mental illness is located at the opposite end.Mental health generally refers to the successful performance of mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships, and the ability to adapt to change and adversity. These domains are commonly referred to as wellbeing.Mental illness includes diseases with classic psychiatric diagnoses, such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Mental health and mental illness can be influenced by multiple determinants, including genetics and biology and their interactions with social and environmental factors.Employers approach employee health through a multi-strategy framework. A multi-strategy framework can be applied to an employer approach to mental health as well. A comprehensive approach includes: promotion, prevention, intervention, and follow-up. It is important to recognize that mental health promotion needs to be equal in importance to the prevention and treatment of mental illness.Today’s worksite wellness programs need to address all dimensions of employee wellness, not just physical health.
In a given year, 1 in 5 adults struggle with a mental health disorder in the United States. This corresponds to 43.8 million people or 18.5 percent of the total population. Nevertheless, millions of people are stigmatized, discriminated, and isolated by their families, friends, and even employers because of the widespread myths surrounding mental health. This can make it difficult for a person dealing with a mental illness to recover. It is therefore, indispensable to dispel such myths and provide help to those grappling with a mental health disorder as early diagnosis and intervention can help a person recover completely and lead a normal life.Read on to find out if certain things believed about mental health are myths or not.
Myth – Mental illnesses are rare.
Fact – Mental health conditions are more common than one can imagine. With 1 in 5 people being affected by it, 1 in 25 of those affected get a diagnosis of a serious mental disorder that impairs life function in a given year. It can affect anyone irrespective of one’s gender, age, ethnicity, race, religion, and/or income levels.
Myth – A mental disorder is a consequence of poor parenting.
Fact – Mental illnesses are not a result of poor child-care practices. It is a common affliction that affects 1 in 5 teens and young adults. Mental health is affected by genetics, environment factors, trauma, and so much more.
Myth – People pretend to have a mental illness.
Fact – No one chooses to have a physical illness. Likewise, no one chooses to have illness like this. The causes behind this is extensively investigated and are genuine. Sometimes, the symptoms of a this might not be visible, however, that does not mean that someone’s condition is not real.
Myth – Mental health disorders are a result of personal weaknesses.
Fact – Just like any other major physical illness, mental health is also not a result of a person’s character or personal weaknesses. It is caused by genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle choices. A stressful marriage, job conditions, or strained relationships can make some people more susceptible to this. Biochemical processes, faulty circuits and the structure of the brain may also contribute. Long-term consumption of alcohol or drugs also leads to the development of mental illnesses.
Myth – You are simply sad, not depressed.
Fact – Depression is not something a person can just get rid of. People often tell the depressed one to cheer up or shake it off. However, it is not just the blues that can be willed away. It is a serious mental health disorder which necessitates medication and therapy for proper management.
Myth – Medications will help, you do not need therapy.
Fact – People with mental illnesses have different treatment requirements. They cannot be treated with a one-size-fits-all approach. The treatment plan for mental disorders should be customized to suit a person’s requirements and medical history. People usually benefit from a combination of medications, therapy, and self-care. One must talk to a mental health counselor to know about their options.
Myth – Individuals with mental disorders cannot handle school or work.
Fact – It could be challenging to handle stressful situations for all people, not just for those living with a mental illness. However, people with mental illnesses do have jobs, go to schools, and lead an active life in their communities. And if under treatment, they are usually seen to be doing well.
Myth – People with mental disorders are dangerous and violent.
Fact – Research has shown that people diagnosed with a mental illness are subjected to violence and crime rather than being violent themselves. The onset of a mental illness is associated with a heightened risk of subjection to violent and non-violent crimes.
Myth – Only positive thoughts and prayer can heal a mental illness.
Fact – Prayer, positive thinking, and spirituality can be used as effective tools for recovery, however, these are not the only tools. Lifetime recovery can be ensured by integrating these tools with proper medication, therapy, and self-care. For this, one must talk to a licensed mental health therapist or seek treatment in a residential mental health treatment center, if the condition is severe.
Myth – People with mental illnesses should be kept in institutions.
Fact – People with severe mental illnesses or psychosis need to be institutionalized. The rest can stay in an inpatient mental health treatment center for the period of time of their treatment. With advancement in medical science, it is now possible for people to live with their families, secure a job, have a social life, and live a life well, while still being in treatment. A certified mental health therapist can diagnose the severity of the condition and help one ascertain their options.Seeking help for mental disordersMental illnesses are real and if left untreated, they can affect each and every area of one’s life. They can affect school or work performance, relationships, and can also cause suicidal ideation. Overall, these problems worsen the quality of life. Therefore, it is important to receive a diagnosis and early treatment.