Americans grappling with discussing mental health in the workplace

In a collectively stressful time, workers are having a hard time bringing up mental health problems with their employers.

At least 20% of the American workforce experiences some form of mental health condition, according to Mental Health America, and that number is on the rise during the pandemic.

Marissa Gonzalez has been honest with her employers about what’s happening in her personal life and says she has received mixed reactions, but that some employers do care and will help you push through. She believes it comes down to communication and awareness; we’re all dealing with emotions and problems no one else knows about.

“People fear that ‘When I’m at work, I’m supposed to leave everything else at the door and I’m just supposed to be focused on my work,’ and ideally that would be great, but it’s not realistic,” Gonzalez said.

Not every employer is going to react as compassionately, according to Melissa Peshka of Essential Life Mastery Coaching and Healing, though it may pay for them to do so.

“If your employer is empathetic about that, they will care and they will give you that time off, because you’re not good to them if you’re not in a good mental health state,” Peshka said. “You’re not going to be productive and doing well with your job.”

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows 40% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression by mid-July 2020, up from 11% in July 2019.

A local therapist says those struggling with mental health have no reason to be ashamed.

“You are not alone; please make sure you find a way to find the strength to reach out,” said Renee McFarland of Elite DNA Therapy. “It might even be starting a conversation with your family, family members, people that are around you, people that you trust, people that love you. I think that would be a great start.”

You can ask your human resources manager for information about your job’s employee assistance programs, most of which have a confidential hotline where you can seek professional help.

Writer:Joey Pellegrino
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