Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace 

Benjamin Davila

All of us likely know someone who suffers from a mental illness, potentially even someone at risk of injury to themselves or others. It’s also highly likely that some of us here are those very same people. The statistics speak for themselves, for 19.86% of adults experience a mental illness, which is the equivalent of nearly 50 million Americans. And out of that 19.86%, 4.91% are experiencing a severe mental illness, one that is likely to be a direct cause of injury.  

US Surgeon General Vivek Murphy, MD writes that “A healthy workforce is the foundation for thriving organizations and healthier communities,” and that “as we recover from the worst of the pandemic, we have an opportunity and the power to make workplaces engines for mental health and well-being”, my sessions discuss the unequivocal importance of a culture of acceptance and understanding in the workplace. The workplace itself must be held responsible for safeguarding the mental health of those it employs. Employees routinely are afraid of being honest about their struggles with their colleagues or supervisors for fear of losing employment or judgement, and therefore mental health education in the workplace can ensure that everyone can support those around them and be supported in turn to create an inclusive and safe space of employment. 

This not only allows people to feel happier in their personal lives but also positively affects people’s ability to perform well consistently at work too. It isn’t about trying to fix everything; it’s about ensuring a workplace is mindful of well-being and support to others. 

Transparency is crucial to this consistency, and that has to begin at the very top of organizations in order to reach those at every rung of the ladder. Managers should be leading by example on this front as with every other, confidently tackling those difficult conversations with compassion and honesty. Starting with small things like reminding people of their right to take time off work or encouraging lunch breaks away from work phones can seem small, but the message they express is powerful. Mental health training allows people the confidence to support their employees in the way they deserve and can help organizations further highlight the policies and mechanisms they need to improve upon to support the people that work for them. They aren’t just helpful, they are imperative. And they are needed now. 

You can watch Benjamin Davila’s full presentation along with two others in the GSX 2023 Career HQ skill-building collection.