Mental health awareness matters every month of the year

As Mental Health Awareness Month came to a close at the end of May, I would like to emphasize the importance of continuing our awareness through the remaining eleven months of the year.

According to Mental Health America, at 23.64%, Ohio is the state with the fourth highest percentage of adults with mental illness in 2022. At 6.09%, it has the third highest percentage number of adults with serious suicidal thoughts in 2022.

This means that almost 1 in 4 of your friends, colleagues, family and neighbors have mental health issues. These statistics may be hard to hear, but they are essential to understanding the severity of this crisis in our state.

Mental health affects all aspects of life, including mood, behavior, relationships, interests, and even physical health. So what can we do to help, especially as workforce leaders? I would like to provide you with some resources that I have found useful in professional and personal contexts.

The Ohio Department of Insurance issued a Employer Toolkit on Mental Health in the Workplace which promotes mental health in the workplace by equipping employers and employees with the right tools to navigate this struggle. It explains mental illness and the stigma surrounding it, as well as how to combat this stigma. It emphasizes the importance of the words we use and offers helpful substitutes for avoidable terms. It offers helpful tips on adjusting workplace culture to support employee mental health and details specific legislation and benefits requirements that employers should be aware of.

Similarly, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce website features a Opioid Toolkit, an eight-module course that aims to provide employers with the resources to manage conflict related to substance use disorders that can arise in the workplace. Substance use disorders are mental disorders, and it is important that we navigate the stigma against them with empathy and care.

On the legislative side, let’s talk about the Mental Illness Insurance Parity Act. These laws require health insurance plans that cover mental health and substance use disorders to provide this coverage in the same way as the physical health benefits that are covered. In the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and the Ohio Department of Insurance’s joint 2022 Ohio Mental Health Parity Reportdepartments detail the state’s completed and ongoing efforts to support enforcement of these laws, as well as general support for communication, education, and outreach efforts related to mental health awareness.

For child-specific resources, Nationwide Children’s Hospital has launched the On our sleeves country. The web page offers help for children and parents struggling with mental health issues. Its goal is to start the important conversations and provide support to a demographic that we often overlook when considering these complex issues.

We live in a difficult time. There is no shame in experiencing mental health issues, now or never. Ohio has many great people who are dedicated to creating resources that we can use to help support our employees, friends and families, and we should all take advantage of them in times of need.

Steve Stivers is the President and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.

Comments are closed.