Can you imagine driving your car without mirrors? Not only would it be difficult to see your blind spots it also could be quite dangerous.
When it comes to mental health in our culture, there continues to be a stigma around admitting you are experiencing symptoms and/or seeking treatment. But the truth is we all have blind spots when it comes to recognizing psychiatric symptoms. As an employer there are ways to assist your employees in getting the help they need.
According to a study by the National Center for Health Statistics, although 80 percent of people with depression reported functional impairment, only 29 percent of those people reported contacting a mental health professional. That’s a lot of blind spots.
So why are so many people reluctant to receive mental health treatment?
- People often are unaware that the symptoms they are experiencing are treatable.
- People are afraid of what others will think.
In my experience as a mental health case manager, I’ve found the sooner a person experiencing mental health symptoms begins treatment, the sooner the person can recover. That is why so many employers are discovering how valuable it can be to have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). An EAP allows employees to receive free, confidential mental health assessments and treatment. It can help reduce the need for disability leave and/or reduce the number of days off from work.
The people I work with who are on disability due to mental health conditions often show a resistance to seeking treatment from a mental health professional. However, the ones who do seek treatment often see an improvement in their ability to function and are able to return to work much more quickly.
A mental health professional can help us to recognize our blind spots, provide tools to help us overcome our barriers and help us to find the strengths we each have inside us. Just like the mirrors in our cars help us to drive safely, mental health treatment can help us navigate through the difficulties and struggles created by mental health symptoms.
 NCHS Data Brief No. 7, September 2008. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/