B Calm and B Corp
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B Calm and B Corp

The Power of Awareness

Why it’s time to talk about mental health in the workplace

The Phenomenon

As shown by this video of the British association Time to Change, there is a big problem in our society: many people suffer from a mental disorder and do not talk about it.

According to data from the study “Global burden of disease” of Ihme, about 13 percent of the world’s population, approximately 971 million people, suffer from a form of mental disorder.

Cost of Mental Illness

The presence of mental illness can interfere with productivity and work activity. Global anxiety and depression lead to a trillion dollars in productivity loss each year.

In the US, depression causes a loss of 400 million working days every year. In the UK, 91 million.

But, according to the US Center for Workplace Health, 80% of workers are discouraged from seeking proper treatment by the shame and stigma associated with mental disorders.

Those who fail to ask for help, frequently resort to self-medication by using alcohol and drugs, which further intensify the problem.

So, looking at the numbers, mental illness can be considered the elephant in the room of our contemporary work culture. But it’s an elephant that we need to start looking at if we want to solve, or at least manage, the issue.

Responding to the problem

Several studies have shown that organizations with a particular focus on mental health generally report better performance, engagement, less turn over and, in general, more well-being.

The first step to healing is admitting the problem, and we can only do this if we are in an environment that allows us to express our fragility and that does not deny the existence of such widely documented problems.

Although we tend to separate our private lives from the working environment, our discomfort emerges in this situation. As indicated by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) work is the center of contemporary life. For this reason, work cannot be considered a mere way to earn the necessary salary to live the “real life” outside, but a context that is fully part of this life.

Work is at the very core of contemporary life for most people, providing financial security, personal identity, and an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to community life. Source: NAMI (15).

The influence that a welcoming working environment or a stigmatizing one can generate in a person with mental disorders is enormous and can significantly affect the course of the illness, the productivity of the individual and finally the costs for the company and the whole of society.

That is why it is essential to talk about mental health in the workplace and to break down the stigma that surrounds it.

The value of this mental health crisis

Finally, I think it is important to see the crisis in all its forms as the manifestation of a problem that also concerns the context.

As some psychological theories claim, an illness can be the answer to an untenable situation for the individual. And the crisis, however painful, is the means that allows us to highlight this situation.

That is why mental illness, as a crisis, can be a useful guide to seeing what is not adaptive in our society, or the working environment.

It can be used as a guide to transforming this context into a more sustainable and ecological structure.

Sources:

Bateson G., “Steps to an Echology of Mind”,

https://www.internazionale.it/notizie/mark-rice-oxley/2019/06/19/malattie-mentali

https://www.scuoledipsicoterapia.it/news-ed-informazioni/che-cos-e-la-malattia-mentale.html

American Psychiatric Association,(2013), Manuale Diagnostico e Statistico dei Disturbi Mentali, Raffaello Cortina, Milano

https://www.msdmanuals.com/it/casa/disturbi-di-salute-mentale/panoramica-sulla-salute-mentale/trattamento-della-malattia-mentale

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https://www.quotidianosanita.it/scienza-e-farmaci/articolo.php?articolo_id=71189

Cozza M “Disuguaglianze e salute mentale”, NÓOς — Aggiornamenti in psichiatria, Vol 24 N 2, 2018, pag. 79–96, Il Pensiero Scientifico Editore.

Elbogen EB, Johnson SC “The intricate link between violence and mental disorder: results from the national epidemiologic survey on alcohol and related conditions”, Arch Gene Psychiatry 2009, 66, pag. 152–161.

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https://progettoitaca.org/curare-la-malattia-mentale-si-puo/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/carleysime/2019/04/17/the-cost-of-ignoring-mental-health-in-the-workplace/#4e7fbb333726

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/s/stigma-and-discrimination

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