Prince Harry lost his mother at a young age after his parents went through a very dirty and public divorce. He suffered from depression and, fortunately, received therapy that helped him. As a result, he and his brother and sister-in-law, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, launched Heads Together in 2017 to help with mental health.
Now, the Duke of Sussex joins with Oprah to launch a television series about mental health for Apple TV. The Duke said,
I am incredibly proud to be working alongside Oprah on this vital series which we have been developing together for several months.
I truly believe that good mental health - mental fitness - is the key to powerful leadership, productive communities and a purpose-driven self.
It is a huge responsibility to get this right as we bring you the facts, the science and the awareness of a subject that is so relevant during these times.
One in Four People Suffer from Mental Health Problems
Mental health problems affect your employees, and therefore, affect your business. It's inescapable. There's no way your company of 25 people doesn't have several people dealing with some form of mental health struggle. The WHO estimates that 2/3 of people with mental health problems never seek help. Of course, that's a global figure.
We all have no problem accepting that glasses are necessary to see clearly, but, for some reason, we get nervous when mental health problems come up. The Americans with Disabilities Act protects employees with serious mental health problems, but employees need to feel comfortable asking for help.
How Your Business Can Help
First, and foremost, offer the best health insurance you can find that covers mental health issues. Mental health care can be expensive, but is just as critical as physical health care.
Second, get a quality employee assistance program (EAP) that can help your employees with mental health issues. EAPs are relatively inexpensive and can be a great help to your employees.
Third, no stigmas and no fear! You are already working with people who suffer--you just don't know about it. So, if someone is brave enough to come forward, be supportive. This doesn't mean they don't have to do their jobs--of course, they do. But think about reasonable accommodations, even if not required under ADA.
Fourth, consider mental health problems when performance drops. If you've had an otherwise great employee who seems to be slacking off, check in and see what you can do to help. Depression, for instance, can be triggered by an event (like Prince Harry's turbulent childhood) or just come out of nowhere. While you certainly shouldn't pry into someone's personal life and medical problems, you can steer them to the EAP.
If You're Mental Health is Suffering
Get counseling! I know it's scary. My very first therapist said that for every 100 people who's friends and family tell them to get help, only 10 will actually call, and one of those will not show up to the appointment. That was his estimate, but there are definitely more people who need help than actually receive it.
Ask your primary care doctor for help. Online therapy can be a cheaper option (and more convenient for some.) Call your EAP.
And while you may be tempted to let your work suffer when your mind is suffering, remember that being unemployed will make it worse. Remember this checklist from Captain Awkward on what would have helped an employee of hers:
- Showing up on time every day.
- Being showered and wearing clean clothes.
- Being honest and up front if she couldn't complete things, updating us as to the status of tasks.
- Leaving her work environment (desk, computer files) in a state where if she couldn't make it we could easily figure out where she was in a project.
- Being present and paying attention during conversations.
- Not bursting into tears every time her work needed critique or adjustment. Hard to control sometimes, I know! But "Can you use consistent naming conventions when you save files to the servers" doesn't mean "EVERYONE HATES YOU."
Reach out and ask a friend for help, or to make that appointment for you. You're not in this by yourself. People want to help. Let them.