The Role of Mental Health in the Regional Business Community
According to a recent survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, an overwhelming 86% of Americans believe in being open about mental health, and that challenges to individual mental health can get better. Furthermore, the survey also indicated that most Americans felt comfortable interacting with others in their community who had a mental health disorder. The implications of this research may indicate that more individuals across our diverse communities are interested in taking steps to remove obstacles that individuals face along their journey to having sufficient mental health.
The critically important role of mental health is especially relevant today in business. According to Debra Jefferson, coordinator of the Crisis Intervention Team at Horizon Behavioral Health, a key provider of mental health services for the region, the effect of the COVID–19 pandemic has put a heavy burden on regional quality of life in the context of mental health.
“People are isolated, very anxious, which causes an increase in depression, and the pandemic has a lot to do with it”, said Debra Jefferson. She also indicated that substance addiction and abuse rates have also increased, which has put an increased demand on police and first responders to keep their communities safe. Lynchburg Chief of Police, Ryan Zuidema, says that his officers are required to stay with patients for days and that the challenge of meeting the mental health needs of the Lynchburg region are “taking officers off the streets.” The impact of mental health on an individual basis has a spillover effect on the regional business community as well.
A study conducted by the National Institute of Health, or NIH, for short, found that mental health problems have had an adverse effect on individual behaviors in the workplace. These negative implications include but are not limited to, relationship problems with superiors, colleagues, job insecurity, and work-family conflicts. These adverse implications can additionally lead to employee burnout, human error, increased workplace turnover, and a negative impact on productivity and profits. These workplace implications brought about by individual mental health have the potential to undermine the economic development prospects for the region and must be dealt with in a targeted, intentional, and caring way.
Dr. Sian Beilock, the President of Barnard College and a leading cognitive scientist with decades of experience in the field of human cognition, argues that there are several everyday tips individuals can prioritize to help work towards satisfactory levels of mental health in their lives. First, Dr. Beilock argues for the importance of mindfulness, noting that overthinking often undermines performance, which can significantly impact how you show up and perform at work, at home, and in your day–to–day life. When you set aside time to try and understand your emotions, and receive your feelings without judgment, you become more adept at alleviating your anxiety and handling the stress of everyday life. Additionally, Beilock believes understanding and recognizing the circumstances of others, as well as striving to show empathy, can help communicate to others “that someone’s bad day isn’t indicative of who they are as an employee, show them patience, and encourage them to unplug from work and invest in their personal life.” Lastly, the mental health expert encourages supervisors and leaders in the workplace to be clearer in communicating to members of their team, because too much multitasking can overwhelm the human brain, and prioritizing the right tasks can help employees “dedicate their mental resources to one project at a time, (allowing them to) perform better.”
The impact of mental health in the Lynchburg region has not merely been limited to the lives of individuals but has also has adverse implications on our community, families, and organizations. No one lives on an island, and individual mental health concerns have the potential to affect their performance in the workplace, potentially leading to mediocre productivity and reduced profit margins for the organizations they are representing, which could ultimately have an adverse impact on economic development across the region. Fortunately, there are proven strategies that have the potential to alleviate individual mental health, allowing the community to better move forward, helping individuals rise empowered each week to face and overcome the challenges of their industry, and enjoy a superior quality of life offered by the Lynchburg region when they are not at work.