Consider these facts: Nearly one in five people will experience a mental health condition this year, yet less than half will receive treatment. Mood disorders, like depression and bipolar, are the third most common cause of hospitalization. Suicides have increased in nearly every state over the past two decades. In Kansas and Missouri suicide rates are up 45 and 36 percent, respectively.* Among teens in our area, it has become the second leading cause of death.
The question for all of us becomes: How can we work together to reduce these numbers and improve an individual’s mental health and wellness?
Companies and community leaders have an opportunity to make a significant impact by providing education, training and resources to prioritize this focus, which touches all aspects of our lives.
At Netsmart, we know that connecting mental health and physical health is vital for the wellness of an individual. When we take care of our minds, we open the opportunity to live our best lives. This reason is why we believe everyone should make mental health and wellness a priority, just as we do physical health.
Here are three ways Netsmart has learned how we can foster mental wellness in our company and across our communities.
Mental Health First Aid Training
Along the way, we’ve all learned to help someone in physical need. Whether it’s bandaging a wound or performing CPR, we each have some sort of innate lifesaving capability to come to a person’s physical aid. So why is it that mental health, which is a leading cause of hospitalization, has no common first aid training and often is overlooked or goes undiscussed?
Two years ago, Netsmart addressed this by offering Mental Health First Aid training to our associates and clients. The goal of this public education program is to be the mental health version of CPR.
Knowledge drives action. By equipping our associates with mental health education and training, they can better help others and themselves spot the warning signs, and then get the help they need through our associate assistance program or other health benefits.
To date, more than 900 individuals have been certified in Mental Health First Aid. Although associates aren’t required to participate in the one-day training, they are encouraged and provided time off to participate. So far, the response has been positive and humbling; not only have our associates sung its praises, many organizations in the Kansas City area have contacted us about conducting the training for their teams.
This affirms that if we’re going to make a difference and be open to conversations about mental health and wellness, we must work together to make it happen.
Awareness and Support
One initiative deeply important to us is our EveryDayMatters Foundation, which has a mission to erase the stigma surrounding mental health. Through the foundation, our aim is to inspire, enlighten, spark curiosity and celebrate awareness. Netsmart associates are given two EveryDayMatters days each year, in addition to their vacation benefits, to volunteer at organizations they are passionate about in their communities.
Another program we offer to drive awareness about mental health for youth is our Be a Buddy, Not a Bully campaign, which teaches associates’ children what to do if they see someone in need or struggling with a difficult issue.
We also recently rolled out an innovative self-care resource to our associates to support all aspects of whole-person health. These tools are interactive and tailored to an individual. In the first two weeks, more than 20 percent of associates have signed up.
Communication and Collaboration
Open and honest communication brings us one step closer to completing the puzzle when it comes to protecting one’s mental well-being in the workplace.
We embrace two values that we strive to live by each day: communication and collaboration.
Consistency in message and following our mantra throughout everything we do brings the message to life for our associates. That mantra – Vision Driven, Cause Connected, Passionate About Opportunity and Obligation – permeates all our decisions, from workspace design that encourages person-to-person interaction, to client services, onboarding/training and performance reviews.
As the adage says, if you want to go far, go together. We continuously learn as we go, and we do so every day – with our associates, clients and communities. We want to be the example that inspires other companies to do the same and collectively, our efforts will drive more social good than we can do on our own.
The smallest of changes and investment will create a ripple of goodness to benefit all – the time for us to collectively action is now.
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