Mental health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is "a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” It encompasses our emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing and affects how we thing, feel, and act. It determines how we respond to stressful situations, how we relate to our peers, and affects our decision-making skills.
Unfortunately, nearly one billion people (970 million) worldwide have some form of a mental health disorder, with the most common including anxiety and depression. While discussions around mental health are ramping up, there Is still a substantial gap in the demand for mental health services and the supply.
Today, many larger organizations in the US offer their employers access or discounts to mental health treatments like on-demand therapy services, ancillary benefits, meditation apps, etc. But what can organizations of all sizes do to support their people who are not yet suffering from a mental health disorder, but may be at-risk?
Preventative mental health care is supporting employees who do not yet have clinical diagnoses by giving them the necessary tools to prevent a mental health disorder from developing. These same strategies can also be developed in individuals who already have a clinical diagnoses, preventing the illness from becoming worse. Preventative care shifts the focus from trying to fix what’s already wrong to pure prevention— it’s thinking of wellness before an illness.
Organizations should care about preventative mental health, as well. Besides the obvious of caring for the health of your greatest asset, mental health issues just from anxiety and depression alone result in a loss of productivity costing the global economy $1 trillion per year. Wellbeing and productivity are an undeniable pair! As the Black Dog Institute, a medical research institute, puts it, “When our workplaces are mentally healthy, we see enormous benefits to individual employees and to the business itself.”
Preventative care involves making changes not only policy, but the general attitude of your organizations’ leaders and managers. Once implemented, the results are well worth the effort. Here are 5 ways preventative care improves overall wellbeing and mental health.
1. Building Resiliency and Adaptability
Helping a person with their problem is an undeniable win, but what happens when the next difficulty arises? This is where resilience and adaptability skills come into play. Psychological resilience is the ability to cope with a crisis or to return to pre-crisis status quickly. And when we are more resilient, we become better at embracing change, meaning we’re more adaptable.
Preventative mental health techniques like professional coaching help an individual identify work-related triggers impacting their emotional, mental, and physical health, and adapt new skills and habits so they can function well. Through this self-discovery process and learning of new coping mechanisms, individuals will become resilient. And when such services are offered across the organization, groups of resilient individuals can become an adaptable workforce.
2. Building Self-Awareness and Emotional Intelligence
We spend a lot of time helping organizations develop people who are self-aware and bursting with emotional intelligence. They are key yet extremely difficult skills to harness for both personal and professional happiness and success. When we are self-aware we not only recognize our strengths, values, and how we best perform, but we understand how we impact others around us. Self-awareness is one of five main steps towards emotional intelligence, or the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, practice empathy, and overcome obstacles. Preventative mental health techniques like professional coaching help an individual dramatically grown in both of these areas. In its essence, self-awareness training helps the individuals master their emotions - what they're feeling, why they are feeling this way, followed by coming up with an appropriate response to the feeling in question.
Coaching helps your workforce be better team players, take on leadership roles, and cope with emotional distress effectively so they can bounce back from setbacks quickly. When done proactively, coaching centered around self-awareness and emotional intelligence also helps individuals recognize early warning signs of problems like burnout, anxiety, and other work-related issues. As their awareness increases, so does the likelihood of them seeking out additional support when they need it.
3. Prioritizes Mental Health
By preventing mental health issues from ever developing, we are of course prioritizing mental health. But beyond that simple statement, when organizations choose to offer mental health platform, they are helping to de-stigmatize mental health, breaking down barriers to access, and transforming their organization's culture and output. That's a lot of good from one solution!
When we work on preventing mental health in the workplace, we are also focusing on improving areas like engagement and commitment, stress management, and anxiety. Preventative care also prioritizes mental health by giving people the tools to become their best version of themselves. Professional coaching from LeggUP, for example, is an evidence-based support mechanism for mental health. When a person starts their coaching program, they might be trying to find a solution to a particular problem. But, they will certainly come out with a much better understanding of their self and how to cope with challenges in life, both in the personal and professional arena.
According to studies, professionals who apply their strength sin their day-to-day activities reported feeling more connected and motivated by their work. Another evidence-based method used in preventative mental health care is the promotion of personal values and identifying and using personal strengths in their daily life and work
4. Improves Physical Health
As we always say at LeggUP, our mind and body are intrinsically connected. You may have noticed when you are feeling anxious your heart beats faster, your breath is shallower, and you start sweating. This visceral response perfectly demonstrates the connection! On the flip side, when we are happy and healthy, we tend to engage in better behaviors.
Preventative care aims to stop the ripple effect of a multitude of issues before they become concerning including burnout, stress, heart disease, obesity, and depression. This is important because prevention not only improves life and wellbeing but also leads to significant cost saving for both the individual and the organization.
After just 3 to 4 months of utilizing mental health platform, our members see up to a 39% improvement in their physical health. It again goes to show how much of an impact our mental health can have on our physical health and vice versa.
5. Provides a Dedicated Support System
With preventative care, you are working on a problem before they become unmanageable and potentially a mental health issue. But by providing a dedicated and built-in support system to all of your employees (not just the higher-ups!), helps further break down stigmas and barriers around mental health conversations and treatments.
Professional coaching as a preventative care approach gives members choice and the opportunity to collaboratively design new skills, habits, and behaviors directly impacting their wellbeing at mental health, especially when involving from work-related triggers. When there is a support system in place, individuals can reach out for help making them feel less vulnerable or alone. Preventative care also provides much need support and encouragement to people who need help and breaks the stereotype attached to seeking mental health help.
To conclude, preventative care is dedicated to helping individuals identify and mitigate work-related triggers impacting their emotional, mental, and physical health. It also helps individuals become resilient and adaptable by learning new skills and habits that will allow them to cope today and in the future.
Ready to bring an evidence-based preventative mental health care solution to your organization? LeggUP's professional coaching and wellbeing platform offered as an employee benefit take a holistic approach to people development by focusing on 12 dimensions of Wellbeing & Productivity. Our Wellbeing dimensions help an individual identify work-related triggers impacting their emotional, mental, and physical health, and adapt new skills and habits so they can function well. Our Productivity dimensions are sets of behaviors instrumental in achieving desired levels of performance. And for individuals in need of additional mental health care, AbilitiCBT, a telehealth platform offering support from a licensed therapist, allows an organization to cover the full spectrum of mental health of employees. Reach out to see if we could be a good fit for your people!