Mental health—which includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being—is vital at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. Certain environmental stressors—particularly in the workplace—can impact the physical and emotional wellness of healthcare professionals by triggering limitations in efficacy and productivity; in addition to adverse implications on overall welfare (Koinis et al., 2015). The purpose of this research brief is to provide a news analysis based on the following article retrieved from Kaiser Health News, entitled, “Coming Out About Mental Health on Social Media,” along with the implications of the topic of mental health on the future of healthcare leadership. Specifically, the objective is to provide enlightenment towards presenting mental health awareness, which the article depicts through the viewpoints of several public advocates, while employing referenced scholarly journals in order to divulge the impact of healthcare leadership on the stigma of mental health and provide resolutions for creating a healthy, pragmatic work environment.
Keywords: Mental Health, Healthcare Leadership, Workplace, Public Health
In general, mental health appears to be a topic that very few people seemingly wish to discuss— predominantly within the work environment. The prime contributing factor may be obvious: A destitute mental state—that is left unresolved—could manifest within the workplace and ultimately afflict an individual’s work performance. While privacy and/or confidentiality about susceptible subjects is fundamental, there should be an obligation of a business to be cognizant and perhaps invest interest in the psychological well-being of an individual or employee (Huhman, 2016).
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Many occupations within the healthcare industry that involves human interaction and precipitate managerial or decision-making capabilities—while those decisions can pose critical (financial, social or other) impact—are among the most stressful professions. Being subjected to long periods of stress may reduce one’s proficiency and possibly elicit adverse outcomes on an individual’s quality of life (Koinis et al., 2015).
Furthermore, social media platforms have undoubtedly begun to play an increasingly vital role in the personal and professional lives of many people, in addition to organizations—while connecting individuals with each other. Nevertheless, some positive and negative aspects of social media have been captivated via research and ideas.
Lofton (2019)— initiated this topic from the perspective of a graduate student— “Susanna Harris”—who recently discovered that she had failed what she defined to be the most significant examination in graduate school, the doctoral candidacy qualifying exam. Gradually, after apprehending the impact of this experience, resulting in disruptive sleep patterns, the subject— “Harris”—decided to seek medical attention; consequently, she was prescribed antidepressants. The author described the subject as being surprised by the correlation between depression and “Ph.D. students”; subsequently, the subject began establishing alliances by imparting aspects of her mental health journey via community organizations and social media, which evolved to be overly beneficial.
This article further conveyed that within recent years many people—who have battled mental health conditions—have begun sharing their struggles by the illness with the world via social media platforms, developing hashtags to connect with each other—as opposed to when mental health battles were typically reserved privately.
The author continued to portray the topic via the viewpoints of other public advocates. Notably, “Lauren Evans,” a public relations professional from Philadelphia who was diagnosed with mental illnesses in 2013, accredits social media as being a creditable platform for allowing her voice to be heard.
Additionally, “Dr. Isaiah Pickens, a clinical psychologist,” explained that social media could cause an adverse effect when exploited erroneously; thereby, social media platforms should be used as a supplementary method, and individuals should consider seeking assistance from conventional support groups and experts, instead. Dr. Pickens also suggested using social media judiciously to pursue support groups while establishing some boundaries with respect to certain aspects of one’s life.
Furthermore, “Sammy Nickalls, an editor and writer,” stated that she developed the hashtag “#TalkingAboutIt,” because—and based on a University of Michigan News study (as cited in Lofton, 2019)—many social media platforms were prone to generate misconceptions by exposing the ‘happier’ phases of the consumers’ lives.
Conclusively, Nickalls concedes that—within recent years—mental health has been analyzed more profoundly with enhanced awareness, as opposed to before, and social media platforms are being used to broaden the acuity and communal sponsorship respective to mental illness (Lofton, 2019).
According to Watson Wyatt Worldwide and World Health Organization (as cited in Dimoff & Kelloway, 2019) mental health issues such as interim atypical psychological occurrences including stress, which often affects how individuals perform and reflect, in addition to mental disorders—described as a broad spectrum of psychological conditions distinguished by major distress and prolonged dysfunctional impairment—are among the major causes that often lead to permanent illness, disability, and untimely demise. Dimoff & Kelloway (2019) assert that these psychological implications maybe frequently correlated with a substantial monetary deficit, such as decreased productivity, absenteeism, and a progressively persistent disability practice (American Institute of Stress, 2005; McDaid, 2011; McDaid & Park, 2011; Mental Health Commission of Canada [MHCC], 2012; Sauter, Murphy, & Hurrell, 1990). Ultimately, various experts (as cited in Dimoff & Kelloway, 2019) indicate that mental health conditions can lead to cognitive and emotional impairments, imperiled occupational performance, and deprivations in interpersonal rapports when disregarded and left untreated.
Supporting populace mental health and meeting the impediments of mental illness is an urgent public health challenge of the 21st century. Thus far, very little attention has been positioned on how to project and maintain the range of strategies and obligations that realistically exist to the complete scale of that challenge. Belkin & McCray (2019) defined “ThriveNYC” as an exertion by New York City to seal the gap, through a public health approach subsidized by investments in resources and effective leadership.
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“ThriveNYC” exemplify ways to assist in activating a broader network of researchers and representatives to contemplate on how to implement this challenge, to compromise on essential vital rudiments for operative action and execution, and to steadfastly reinvent the meaningfulness of mental health while reinforcing the societal conformity that inspires well-being (Belkin & McCray, 2019).
Public Health Approach to Mental Health
A public health approach delineates and examines what impends health throughout a populace, explicates who is affected by those threats, and detect resolutions to decrease those threats—and discrepancies in their appearance and effect. The magnitude of public health resolutions typically works beyond the context of individual medical treatment; additionally, they discover more effective strategies and impartial approach to successful treatment and services.
Consequently, a public health approach employs a scale of health system and communal strategies and procedures for alleviating illness and deprived outcomes, in addition to eliminating barriers to residing in healthier environments (Belkin & McCray, 2019).
Research and professionals suggest that approximately one in four adults battle a mental health condition during their lifetime. Those individuals who battle one or more mental conditions frequently conceal it out of fear that their associates or supervisors may exert discernment towards them. When leaders—within healthcare and various sectors—can recognize and respond appropriately to mental health issues, it can exclusively make all the distinction for an employee both on a personal and professional level.
O’Brien & Fisher (2019) propose that there are five approaches that leaders can employ in order to create and facilitate a more supportive culture within an organization:
Pay attention to language. Using words—such as “Mr. OCD is at it again—organizing everything”—can generate a negative impact and stigmatize individuals—in the form of criticisms—who suffer from mental health problems.
Reconsider “sick days.” Some individuals respond distinctively towards indications of stress, anxiety, or emotional explosions—as opposed to physical ailments such as cancer. It is imperative to suggest and consent to time off in order to focus on improving one’s mental and physical health.
Encourage open and honest conversations. It is essential to promote a secure, nontoxic environment for people to interact and discuss their past and present challenges without apprehension of being referred to as peculiar or bypassed for the next job promotion. Professionals can lead by example by imparting their own experiences and inspiring other associates to disclose their personal accounts of mental health struggles, courage to attain help, and resume a thriving career path.
Be proactive. Some individuals are more assertive in high-pressure professions and circumstances; therefore, these individuals often become acclimated to stressful situations and can develop coping mechanisms. However, sustained uncontrollable stress could contribute to deteriorating indications of mental illness. Administrators can ensure that their employees are attaining enough balance by offering access to resources, programs, and education on stress management—in order to reduce or inhibit mental exhaustions. O’Brien & Fisher (2019) advised that leaders should abet employees in connecting to efficient resources before stress produce more serious problems.
Educate people to notice and respond. “Mental Health First Aid” (MHFA) is an international training program designed to provide education on how to recognize the symptoms and indications of mental illness, in addition to connecting those individuals—suffering from mental health challenges—with appropriate resources. This program also provides guidance on how to listen objectively, give encouragement, and evaluate the risk of suicide or self-harm, via role plays and other activities (O’Brien & Fisher, 2019).
Organizations have an obligation to support individuals with mental disorders. A healthy environment can be delineated as one where employees and administrators are able to actively promote and protect the health, safety, and well-being of all employees. Due to the stigma associated with mental issues, organizations should make certain that individuals feel supported and comfortable asking for support returning to work and are endowed the essential resources to perform their job.
- Belkin, G., & McCray, C. (2019). ThriveNYC: Delivering on mental health. American Journal of Public Health, 109(53), 156-163. http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.umuc.edu/10.2105/AJPH.2019.305040
- Dimoff, J., & Kelloway, E. K. (2019). With a little help from my boss: The impact of workplace mental health training on leader behaviors and employee resource utilization. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 24(1), 4-19. http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.umuc.edu/10.1037/ocp0000126
- Huhman, H. (2016, July). How to address mental health at your workplace. Entrepreneur. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/279052#
- Koinis, A., Giannou, V., Drantaki, V., Angelaina, S., Stratou, E., & Saridi, M. (2015). The impact of healthcare workers job environment on their mental-emotional health. Coping strategies: The case of a local general hospital. Health Psychology Research, 3(1), 12-17. https://doi.org/10.4081/hpr.2015.1984
- Lofton, T. (2019, August). Coming out about mental health on Social Media. Kaiser Health News. Retrieved from https://khn.org/news/coming-out-about-mental-health-on-social-media/
- O’Brien, D., & Fisher, J. (2019, February). 5 ways bosses can reduce the stigma of mental health at work. Harvard Business Review, 2-4. Retrieved from http://www.hbr.org
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