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Progress has been made around mental health in recent years. Still, despite recognition that mental health results from physiological processes, illnesses related to mental health are more likely than other illnesses to be perceived as controllable by those who experience them. Much of the stigma around mental health results from the view that it is somehow separate from physical health.

Unfortunately, mental health issues can be detrimental to whole health. Depression, as one example, increases the risk for physical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Nearly 70% of adults with mental health disorders have medical conditions. Conversely, people with chronic physical conditions experience depression and anxiety at double the rate of the general population. 


It’s clear: mental health is just as important as physical health. We must continue to reduce stigma and break down barriers to behavioral healthcare. Here are a few thoughts on how: 

  • Incorporate mental health discussions and screenings in primary care. Primary care providers support fundamental aspects of individuals’ health, including health education, health management, and disease prevention. These providers can – and should – be on the front lines of screening for depression, substance use, and other common conditions associated with mental health.

  • Create more opportunities for peer support.  Peer support specialists, especially those who have lived experience with a mental health condition or substance use disorder, can be profoundly helpful and impactful resources—interpersonally and from a care-navigation standpoint.  

  • Facilitate conversations about how mental health and substance use disorder conditions are more frequently diagnosed than other common diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Eliminating the misconception that mental health conditions are relatively rare or less acceptable helps diminish the stigma surrounding them. 

  • Support  Stamp Out Stigma, led by the Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness, and organizations like NAMI, the largest grassroots mental health organization in the U.S. Stamp Out Stigma seeks to increase awareness and acceptance and reduce the stigma around mental health and substance use disorders, while NAMI provides a number of powerful educational tools, as well as an interactive help line where mental health questions are answered.


As an employer, we encourage our associates to: 

  • Participate in mental health screenings as part of their annual primary care checkups

  • Speak with internal counselors as an optional first step to care

  • Use self-guided digital tools that engage them in the management of their own mental health

  • Access benefits provided through our Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

One in five  adults in the U.S. experiences a mental health condition, many of which go untreated. Health benefits companies, healthcare professionals, employers, and consumers alike can play a role in increasing acceptance and awareness of mental health by helping more people get the support they need and deserve. When we talk about the importance of mental health, we reduce stigma and empower ourselves and others.

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