In the 1950s, mental health was finally becoming something that was a part of the world around us. People understood those who were mentally ill to be “crazy” and were often institutionalized. However, the ’50s began an era of allowing those with mental health issues to be deinstitutionalized and re-entered into communities and society as a whole.
That period of time still had a huge stigma around those who struggled with their mental health. People were avoidant if they knew that someone was struggling and the workforce was barely accommodating for these folks. People didn’t want to understand; they simply wanted to ignore that others sometimes needed a bit of help.
Over time, society became more understanding of the need for mental health assistance, particularly as more people began receiving diagnoses. In 1996, the federal government put the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 into place, which prevents health insurance providers from discriminating again mental health coverage. This was a huge leap in the right direction for giving people the help that they need.
One the biggest challenges, however, has been the lack of importance regarding mental health in the workplace. While recent years have shown that many employers recognize this need, far more companies still seem to struggle with the idea of taking care of their employees in this regard. Most employees (around 95%) have said that they have taken a “mental health day” while naming another reason, such as an upset stomach or family emergency. Fortunately, there are more companies that are slowly providing policies for mental health days and mental health breaks.
As we come closer to the end of Mental Health Awareness Month, I can’t help but think on how this worldwide pandemic has affected the mental health of everyone around. Even those who do not have a diagnosed issue have been suffering from anxiety and depression. People seem to be talking about self-care but very few are talking about mental health care in the workplace. There are far too many essential workers – and people who are starting to go back to work – to ignore that this is a problem. Perhaps this current area of quarantine and reaching out to others will prompt more workplaces to initiate mental health tactics, whether it’s mental health days, better insurance coverage, or training on self-care. We’re all reaching out to our friends and families to make sure they’re holding up okay. Let’s make sure to reach out to our employees, too.