Together, we are all taking steps to bring greater awareness to mental health and transform health care. To highlight Mental Health Awareness Month, I talked with Patrick Kennedy on the Healthy Dose of Dialogue podcast about destigmatizing mental health and treating mental health as part of whole-person health. Kennedy, who co -founded the Kennedy Sacher Center for Mental Health Equity in 2015, has dedicated his life to improving the care, treatment and public policies and understanding of mental health issues and addiction in the US and globally.   During the program, he discusses his personal journey and what led him to become an advocate for mental health equity and addiction support.

While we acknowledge the importance of this topic this month, we need to continue the discussion throughout the year to help employers, employees and ourselves grow and promote the transformation of health care in this area. 

Supporting Employees

The importance of communication is invaluable when it comes to mental health resources. As I noted last year during open enrollment, brokers and consultants play a key role and can provide answers to questions that will help your employees.

Recently, Mercer’s annual health benefits summary highlighted the need to support the behavioral health of employees: “Heading into 2021, employers are avoiding cost-management tactics that disrupt or shift costs to employees. Instead, many are adding resources to help address new sources of stress and keep employees engaged and productive during these tough times.”

The pandemic has changed our lives personally and professionally, and employers are making mental health a priority. If you are an employer, take the time to identify the ways your company can better support an employee’s behavioral health and emphasize that through regular internal and external communications.

Youth Mental Health Resources

Mental health tools are essential for all ages. A new series of five guides about youth mental health was recently introduced by Blue Shield of California’s BlueSky program through a collaboration with the Child Mind Institute (CMI). Published on the BlueSky website, the collection covers a wide range of youth mental health issues, including trauma, racism, depression, LGBTQ+ issues, and anxiety. The guides provide tips on how to identify mental health challenges, as well as resources for taking action to address concerns and access professional help.

Continuing the Conversation

During our podcast conversation, Kennedy noted that when it comes to mental health, our healthcare systems needs to focus on prevention, treatment and recovery: “Those are three dimensions we don’t have today. We have acute episodic-based treatment, but we don’t have this treated as a chronic illness.”

As we continue this conversation with health care leaders, health care providers, employers and employees, we seek to advance the awareness about mental health and transform health care to ensure all of us are able to be our best selves. 

How have you supported your employees’ mental health? Is there something you have done to highlight Mental Health Awareness Month?  

Don Antonucci serves as Senior Vice President of Growth for Blue Shield of California. He has more than two decades of experience in the health care industry and is the host of “Healthy Dose of Dialogue” podcast available on Apple iTunes or Spotify. The monthly podcast invites healthcare leaders to share fresh perspectives and engage in healthy dialogue about marketplace trends and industry insights impacting health care today.