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Always be aware of mental health

DEAR EDITOR:

As May’s Mental Health Awareness Month ends, this is to emphasize the importance of carrying awareness the rest of the year.

According to Mental Health America, at 23.64 percent, Ohio has the fourth highest percentage of adults with mental illness in 2022. At 6.09 percent, it has third highest percentage of adults with serious suicidal thoughts.

Nearly 1 in 4 of your friends, colleagues, family and neighbors struggle with mental health. It’s crucial to understanding the severity of this crisis here.

Mental health affects every aspect of life — mood, behavior, relationships, interests and physical health. How can we help, specifically as workforce leaders? Here are helpful resources in both professional and personal contexts.

Ohio Department of Insurance released a Mental Health in the Workplace Employer Toolkit promoting mental health in the workplace by equipping employers and employees with the proper tools to navigate this fight. It explains mental illness and the stigma that surrounds it, as well as how to combat that stigma. It emphasizes the importance of words we use and offers helpful substitutes for avoidable terms. It offers tips on adjusting workplace culture to support employee mental health and details legislation and benefit requirements for employers.

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce website also features an Opioid Toolkit, an eight-module course intended to provide employers with resources to manage conflicts related to substance use disorders that may arise in the workplace. Substance use disorders are mental disorders. It’s important we navigate stigmas against them with empathy and care.

On the legislative side, let’s discuss mental health insurance parity law. These laws require health plans that provide coverage for mental health and substance use disorders to provide coverage in similar manners to any physical health benefits covered. In Ohio’s Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and the Ohio Department of Insurance’s joint 2022 Ohio Mental Health Parity Report, the departments detail state efforts to support enforcement of these laws, and general support toward communications, education and outreach efforts related to mental health awareness.

For child-specific resources, Nationwide Children’s Hospital launched On Our Sleeves campaign. The webpage offers help for children and parents struggling with mental health. Its goal is to start important conversations and provide support to a demographic we often forget when considering complex issues.

We are living in a tough time. There is no shame in experiencing mental health struggles. Ohio has great people dedicated to creating resources we can utilize to help support employees, friends and families, and we should take advantage when the need arises.

STEVE STIVERS

President and CEO

Ohio Chamber of Commerce

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