World Mental Health Day- October 10th, 2021

As World Mental Health Day approaches, let’s help end the stigma around mental health in the workplace. 

Did you know? 

  • Pre-Covid, 19% of adults in the US experienced a mental illness, and that number has increased 1.5 million since the start of the pandemic. (MHA)
  • 24% of adults with a mental illness report an unmet need for treatment. This number has not declined since 2011. (MHA)
  • 10.8% of Americans with a mental illness are uninsured. (MHA)
  • 1 in 5 Americans experiences mental illness. (NAMI)
  • Only 45% of American adults with mental illness seek treatment. (NAMI)

Mental Health America ranks states based on the prevalence of mental illness and access to care. Alabama ranks #40, meaning there is a higher rate of mental illness and fewer resources available to those in need. Where does your state rank? And what can employers do to help not only your employees but also their families? 

  1. Educate yourself. Understand what mental illness is and what it is not. The World Health Organization (WHO) is helping to bring mental health to the forefront on World Mental Health Day by providing a series of workshops that includes topics like Mental Healthcare for All and Mental Health in the Workplace. There are other great resources out there to help educate on mental illness as well, including those available from and MHA.
  2. Provide resources. Make sure your organization provides resources to employees such as mental health benefits within your healthcare plan, an EAP, mental health days (or as Adam Grant refers to them, “sad days”), or wellness programs. But also make sure your employees know these benefits are available to them. Highlight a mental health benefit in your quarterly newsletter, provide comprehensive open enrollment informational sessions that highlight what each plan offers, work with your EAP or wellness program providers to come onsite to do trainings, and make sure you have information posted in the break area on these benefits. 
  3. Know the warning signs. Just because someone says they’re “fine” doesn’t mean they are. Know what to look for such as sudden changes in mood or behavior (keep in mind that these changes can be manic or depressive in nature), difficulty concentrating or meeting deadlines, sudden significant changes in weight or appearance, or complete withdraw. 
  4. Be vulnerable. First, be willing to listen, really listen. If an employee comes to you, be an active listener, let them know you have the time for them. Set everything else aside. Sometimes just having someone listen can make all the difference. And be willing to share, to let down your guard a little, and be honest. As Mary Ila mentioned in her post Taking a Walkabout, we all came to a point where our stress overwork, family, and other things got the best of us and during our recent quarterly planning meeting we all just stopped, took a deep breath, and allowed ourselves to be vulnerable. We all had a snippet of information about things that were going on in each other’s lives, but up until that moment, we didn’t know the true extent of those stressors and the impact they were having on us as individuals, and as a team. 
  5. Take action. This is one I hope you never have to use, but know that if you have reason to believe that there is an immediate threat that an employee may harm themselves or others as a result of their mental health, there are resources available for you to contact to get them the help they need quickly. The local police department will always do a wellness check if requested. 

How can your organization help end the stigma around mental health in the workplace? 



Lorrie Coffey