How can we educate people on seeing mental health as part of our well-being?

The World Health Organisation defines “mental health” as a state of well-being in which an individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her (their) community. Well-being includes the presence of positive emotions and moods (e.g., contentment, happiness), the absence of negative emotions (e.g., depression, anxiety), satisfaction with life, fulfillment and positive functioning. Well-being can be described as judging life positively and feeling good. Stress, disappointment, and trauma can all impact emotional satisfaction and one’s ability to be productive and contribute to community. From an early age through one’s life, it is important to build skills needed to bounce back when faced with stress, disappointment and trauma and also gain access to supportive figures who might include family, friends, co-workers or professional support when needed. As people talk about mental health more openly in non-stigmatising ways and talk about the non-pharmacological ways people maintain and strengthen their mental health, many more people may be able to improve their well-being.

What can employers do to address mental health issues in the workplace before they might escalate?

Prioritise that full- and part-time employees have good benefits for medical substance use. Be open to talking about mental-health-related challenges in a productive non-stigmatising manner. Create and sustain workflow processes that allow for balanced productivity with ways for employees to gain and give support to one another. Make sure supervisors and managers have the proper attitudes to build workplace wellness cultures and help support employees in distress. Link to available resources. Pay a living wage and have opportunities for career growth since financial stressors are prompts for distress and even suicide. Offer education on wellness-focused strategies to promote work-life balance. Consider peer-support programmes and trainings.

How do we deal with the lack of mental health services available to families as need has increased?

There is more awareness than ever of the need for mental health services in response to Covid. For instance, school systems are increasingly looking to place counsellors within their systems to help students in real time. Telehealth services have cropped up and made many more counsellors available. Whereas governments have also issued programmes promoting mental health.