May is Mental Health Month. It provides an excellent opportunity for us to reflect on the unnecessary stigma that often prevents struggling individuals from seeking help.
Mental Health America (MHA) "2021 State of Mental Health in America Report" ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on various mental health and access measures. The report cited these stats, which show mental health issues are increasing:
Being fueled by pandemic-related loneliness and isolation, the U.S. sees the highest reported anxiety and depression levels since March 2020.
Even before COVID-19, the prevalence of mental illness among adults was increasing. 19% of adults experienced a mental illness in 2020, an increase of 1.5 million people over the 2019 dataset.
The percentage of adults in the U.S. experiencing serious thoughts of suicide increased 0.15% from 2016-2017 to 2017-2018 – an additional 460,000 people from last year's dataset.
Luana Mark is a Harvard Medical school clinical psychologist tasked with monitoring the mental-health impacts of the pandemic in the U.S. and elsewhere. In the article, "Covid's Mental Health Toll: How Scientists are Tracking a Surge in Depression", she says, "I don't think this is going to go back to baseline anytime soon."
This means that now—more than ever—it is essential for companies to do their part to help employees. This includes offering them tools, education, and programs to manage their mental health.
Our Commitment to Mental Health
Systems & Software and its' parent company, Harris, take the mental health of our employees very seriously. We have programs to share helpful resources to engage and embrace them.
Harris offers the "Because We Care" program. Its' focus is "to enhance employees' life potential by promoting a culture of healthy physical, emotional, and financial well-being behaviors."
As part of the program, we recognize important dates. In May and June, they include:
May 15, 2021 - International Day of Families
June 1, 2021 - LGBTQ+ Pride Month starts
June 19, 2021 - Juneteenth - also known as Freedom Day
Additionally, Harris offers participation in the following Inclusion & Diversity Groups:
Women in Leadership
Equity and Inclusion
Women in Tech
LGBTQ+ and Allies
Systems & Software's employees are actively engaged in these groups.
Both Harris and Systems & Software share helpful resources with our employees on an ongoing basis. Here are some that provide good information:
The Mental Health Breakdown (26min)
The Road Ahead Shows Promise
One in five Americans annually experiences mental health challenges ranging from temporary psychological distress to severe depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Of this number, only four in ten adults, and just over half of children aged 8-15, receive appropriate care. This is often because of the stigma associated with these illnesses and their treatments.
Educating ourselves about the realities of mental health during Mental Health Month is a good place to start, but mental health awareness should be a focus every day of the year. Harris and Systems & Software are committed to contributing to this awareness. In collaboration with organizations like those mentioned above, we can reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and its' treatments and, through awareness, improve access to mental health services and support.