While Mental Health Awareness Month isn’t until May, this week there’s been a great deal of news coverage and resulting discussion around mental health and well-being. New research was released on Monday finding that more Americans than ever before suffer from stress, depression and anxiety, with many of those affected too poor to afford medical treatment.
Also this week, Princes William and Harry opened up about the struggles they faced with the death of their mother, highlighting the need to remove the stigma and talk openly about these issues. While the British have long prided themselves for keeping a “stiff upper lip,” they said this should not come at the price of a person’s mental health.
Prince William commented in the joint interview with his brother for CALMzine, “If you were anxious; it’s because you were weak. If you couldn’t cope with whatever life threw at you, it’s because you were failing. Successful, strong people don’t suffer like that, do they? But of course, we all do. It’s just that few of us speak about it.”
So, what can we as a society do? While these broader conversations can be beneficial, employers can play a critical role in making sure their programs and benefits not only focus on physical health, but that of brain health too.
The researchers in the above noted study in the journal of Psychiatric Services also suggest that health policies be put in place so that mental health services and screenings are incorporated into every physician’s practice to offer better access and resources for all patients.
A quick Google search finds many resources and strategies for combatting depression, anxiety and stress. Being active and exercising — a significant area of focus for Vitality — is proven to offer many benefits for people suffering from these conditions. Not only do they result in improvement in physical conditions such as weight and blood pressure, but there are emotional benefits as well.
What types of activities are you doing to improve your brain health? Does your employer address mental health in your workplace?