May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a topic which has been ignored by many employers and healthcare providers in the United States for many years. According to the National Institute on Mental Health, over 40 percent of people will have what qualifies as a mental illness by the time that they are 14. Of that number over half will go untreated which will lead incarcerations, layoffs, and problems in school for those suffering from mental illness.
Mental health is just starting to get the social awareness around it of other physical illnesses, as there are many celebrities in recent years who have spoken out publicly about their mental situations. Many of the stars have been A-listers like Beyoncé, J.K. Rowling, Demi Lovato, and others who have suffered from depression or other mental illnesses. As a former recipient of welfare, J.K. Rowling battled hunger, divorce, and depression, all while penning the original Harry Potter novel. At the age of 35, Rowling was on public assistance until her book was picked up by the first publisher and then she was propelled to mega-stardom. Rowling now has more money than the Queen of England, but her status as a billionaire does not change the fact that she still seeks treatment for depression on a regular basis. Mental Health Awareness Month offers the United States an opportunity to take a deep look at a serious problem.
Mental illness is a problem for the entire world; in fact, over 38 percent of Europeans suffer from mental illness. Many of the large drug companies in Europe have backed away from funding many of the studies on mental illness and the governments of the countries are now stepping up and footing the bill, it is important to find a solution and make people aware of the effects of mental illness. According to the World Health Organization, is expected to be the number 2 largest health problem of citizens. Mental illness contributes over $555 billion in medical expenses per year in Europe, according to the World Health Organization. Mental Health Awareness Month in the USA is a great time of the year to raise awareness to the fact that the United States has numbers which are parallel to those in Europe.
During Mental Health Awareness Month, there is much research to back up the facts about the severity of mental illness, and many employers are still grappling with ways to be able to allow treatment for the disease. Many people who have bipolar disease are high functioning members of society; they may have very respectable jobs like professors, CEOs, and management. However, they are seeking treatment for their diseases on their vacation time or paid time off in order to be able to cope with the painful effects of the disease.
Companies are beginning to realize the cost of mental illness, and are being proactive to try to deal with the mounting costs of this debilitating situation. In addition to the cost that employees must pay, there are also mounting costs for employers who lose productivity to employees who are being treated for mental illness. When employers are being proactive and making employees aware of their options for treatments there are positive results. Over 18.1 percent of adults who have depression find that they are happier and more focused on the job after treatment. Mental Health Awareness Month is a unique opportunity for employers to set up programs which educate and inform workers about the severity of mental diseases.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the USA. This means that employers and employees alike need to take an honest look at their situation and find ways to be proactive together.
By Melissa English
Photo By Jim Forrest-Creativecommons Flickr License
PhotoBy Victor-Creativecommons Flickr License