This is the second article in our series focused on Mental Health. In the first article, the author tackles the myths and stigma surrounding mental health.
Spotlight on Mental Health
We cannot fail to see the growing interest in the promotion of mental health awareness and in the movement to instigate positive change.
This is strongly being supported by the increase in media coverage, world prominent figures, members of the British Royal Family, celebrities, mental health advocates and charities, as well as people sharing their personal experience.
In fact, many countries, governments and businesses, around the world, have come to recognise the huge importance and impact that mental ill health has on our human functioning, happiness, community relations and economic development.
The Price of our Mental Health
The figures on how many of us experience mental ill health and the profound impact on the economy paint an alarming picture.
1 in every 4 people in the UK and over 1 in 6 in the European Union and World Wide experience a mental health or substance misuse problem. This is estimated at being around 970 million people constituting 13% of the global population (2017)(1). This has been shown to have a major impact on employee absence, engagement, productivity and the economy.
In the UK mental health problems are estimated to have an economic cost of £70 – £100 Billion (2013), €600 billion is estimated to be the cost to the EU countries with €240 billion on lost productivity(2).
The World Health Organization estimates that depression and anxiety cost the global economy $1 trillion in lost productivity (2017)(3).
In the UK only around 25% of people are estimated to have access to appropriate treatment (2014) (4) with as little as 12.1% of adults receiving mental health treatment (2014)(5).
Recognising Mental Health as no longer the Poor Relation
The human development, social and business case for the need in a greater consideration and investment in mental health has not only been made but is being heavily witnessed.
In the interest of building a greater society, the focus must be on making us healthier and happier, along with creating a more resilient and highly productive workforce. To achieve this the welfare of people’s mental and physical health needs to be on an equal footing. This requires significant and structured investment.
The UK Government has recognised this in its recent funding and made mental health more of a priority in 2011 with its new strategy of “no health without mental health”. In 2012 it was made a legal responsibility for the NHS to maintain an equal commitment and level of care for both mental and physical health by 2020.
We can see how businesses, organizations and individuals are beginning to recognise and implement strategies to support Mental Health and Wellbeing. This progression is essential for positive and engaged cultures, which promote strong and lasting growth.
What does it Take to Achieve a Greater Mental Health Transformation?
We are now talking more openly about our mental health issues and challenging the stigma.
The developments of an increasingly more positive perspective on mental health are encouraging, nevertheless, a much larger transformation is necessary.
We now require the implementation of more adequately funded support services and effective collaborative, long-term strategies involving the tacking of the deep-rooted stigma, negative stereotypes and discrimination associated with mental illness. These are all necessary if we are to create a more open, accepting, safer, supportive and inclusive society, in which people and workplaces can benefit and thrive
10 factors for the Creation of a Mentally Healthier Culture
Real and lasting change can be promoted by the establishment of a comprehensive and strong mental health strategy involving the implementation of structured state, social and business practices related to continuous life-long development.
Here are 10 factors vital for the creation of a mentally healthier culture:
1. Talking Openly
Talking openly means talking safely and in a matter of fact way about our mental health and its impact.
Being able to share one’s experience promotes many benefits in allowing people to gain relief, acceptance and support, as well as creating engagement.
This enables people to learn, understand and develop in a naturally healthy way.
2. Equal Recognition
Accepting mental health on an equal footing with our physical health is a necessary development.
These are hugely interrelated and contribute fundamentally to our overall health and wellbeing, which is vital for our positive growth.Caroline Ribeiro-Nelson (Head of Free Choices UK): Mental health relates to all of us #mentalhealth #brandminds2020 Click To Tweet
3. Teaching Children
From a very early age, the importance of good psychological health and well-being supports to build psychological resilience.
This is more important now more than ever, in a world where the young are confronted with increasingly complex technological, political and social developments, which deeply impact and make greater demands on mental strength and flexibility.
4. Supporting Males
We need to stop giving harmful messages to boys and men and create a culture where talking about and taking care of their mental health and well-being are a natural process, rather than a weakness.
This is crucial, in order to deal with their mental health problems effectively and to reduce the higher risk males face.
5. Implementing Clear and Comprehensive Processes
Implementing clear and comprehensive processes in the establishment of government and health service policy and procedures is mandatory.
This is essential along with an investment of appropriate finances, in order to provide adequate structures and resources. This will enable the delivery of vital and high-quality mental health services.
6. Access to Resources
Access to resources is achieved in the creation of a variety of mediums, through which people can quickly and easily find the most appropriate support services and resources.
Mental health service users and their carers having efficient access to resources can greatly reduce stress and allow more people to gain the necessary support.
7. Relevant Guidance
Ensuring that there are clear and straightforward information and advice from mental health professionals and services, will allow more people, with mental health issues and their carers, to receive support more quickly and effectively.
8. Leadership & Commitment
A real and significant change in the workplace and economy can be brought about by governments and business leaders, throughout all industries and across every sector, making a strong and on-going commitment to place mental health and well-being high on their agenda.
A focus on creating a healthy, happy and resilient work cultures is supportive of a more engaged workforce and productive economy. This is good for people, society and business.
9. Taking Responsibility
Mental health relates to all of us.
Alongside government, health services and societal role models everyone needs to be involved in promoting our mental wellbeing. Sharing and working together, freely and honestly can be a powerful force in instigating positive change.
10. Joint Networking
There are increasingly more organisations and individuals working in the same way with the same goals.
Psychological, Mental Health and Well-being providers and supporters coming together to form a nationwide network would provide a comprehensive and coordinated strategy.
A consistent and focused approach is clearly more productive and effective in building a more healthy and resilient culture.
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According to the 2013 Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer, mental health problems cost the UK economy an estimated £70-£100 billion each year and account for 4.5% of GDP.269 It is estimated that 20% of this cost is attributed to health and social care costs, 30% to lost productivity, and the remaining 50% to human suffering.
Department of Health. (2014). Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer 2013, https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk
Mental health and wellbeing in England: Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014. Leeds: NHS Digital.