October 8, 2021
Mental health inclusivity in our daily interactions and world
Helka Casey, MSEd, LPCC-S, Employee Assistance Program

World Mental Health Day is celebrated in October, and this year’s campaign is “Mental health care for all: let’s make it a reality.” This day provides an intentional opportunity to talk about mental health and how we can be more inclusive of mental health in our daily interactions and our world. These past 18 months, with an ongoing pandemic, have been uniquely challenging to say the least. We are experiencing an untold amount of stressors: loss, strain, grief, isolation, burn out, and more. An interesting side effect of the pandemic, is that we are witnessing the dismantling of some barriers to seeking help. At the Ohio State Employee Assistance Program (EAP), we’ve heard from staff more than ever that they’ve never been to counseling before and that the ripple effect of the pandemic has made them more open to talking to someone. We're also seeing much more regular discussion in social media, advertisements, and Ohio State wellness communications that it’s okay to not be okay and it’s okay to seek help. 

How can you support a world where mental health care for all can be a reality? Continue dismantling the barriers to seeking help. You can do so by encouraging coworkers, friends, and family to seek help if they appear in need. You can share with them if you’ve been to counseling or sought out other mental health support (no need to disclose details, it’s about them in that moment). You can provide resources on where to access mental health services by encouraging them or assisting them to access their insurance or Ohio State EAP benefits. For those you encounter that do not have insurance, you can refer them to Mental Health America and Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. Provide them with the Crisis Text Line : Text HOME to 741741 to reach a Crisis Counselor or they can call 800.273.8255. You can post resources on your social media platforms to help reduce stigma, provide information, and let those around you feel supported.

You can also learn more about mental health. The Ohio State EAP provides two Mental Health Awareness Workshops (one for staff, one for managers) focused on increasing understanding of the signs and symptoms to mental health issues and learning approaches to support coworkers. These are interactive workshops with participant discussion and collaboration. The next two workshops are on October 13 at 10:00 a.m. for managers and November 10 at 11:00 a.m. for staff.

Finally, you can also help reduce the stigma of mental health and build awareness by discontinuing the use of mental health as an adjective. For example, ‘they are so OCD about everything…their house is always perfect’ or ‘the temperature in this office is so bipolar! One minute it’s cold the next minute it’s hot.’ Language has power and when we use mental health as adjectives, we perpetuate the stigma and prevent help-seeking behaviors. “The more people treat these conditions as adjectives and associate them with the wrong behaviors, the harder those of us with mental illnesses must fight to break stigmas.” 1

Remember to also care for yourself. If you would like to utilize the Ohio State EAP benefit of five complimentary counseling sessions, please contact the EAP at 800-678-6265 or eap@osumc.edu. You can also submit an online service request for counseling click here, and for work life referrals, click here.

1 Please stop using my mental illness as an adjective


image credit: istockphoto.com