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Mental health and the workplace: How the office culture is changing

The American work culture is changing how it views mental health now and it is likely saving lives.

 10:50 AM MST June 1, 2023

PHOENIX — The number of adults diagnosed with depression in the U.S. is growing. A recent Gallup survey shows rates shot up 10% from 2015.

The American work culture is changing how it views mental health now and it is likely saving lives.

Brittany Moore is employed at the Greater Phoenix Chamber. She said the resources she has now for her mental health were nonexistent when she was younger.

She was, “suffering in silence at times just because it wasn’t part of the norm,” she told 12News.

Moore said she was diagnosed with anxiety from a young age. And entering the work force was a challenge.

“It didn’t seem like it was ‘okay’ to take a mental health day,” she recalled.

But new data is showing workers need those days now more than ever.

A Gallup survey released in May shows an alarming rise in depression rates across the country with the highest increases in women and young adults.

It’s something that came to a head during the pandemic, according to Sentari Minor.

“Gone are the days where you show up very differently for work because we all were just putting work life together,” he stated.

Minor is the vice president of strategy and chief of staff at evolvedMD. It’s a behavioral health services care company whose goal is to weave mental health support into traditional primary care. Something Minor said more companies desperately need.

“Right now, businesses are losing tons of money because of absenteeism because of mental health,” Minor added.

He said employers who think the resources and days available will cost money in the end-have it backward.

“If you really want to develop a high performing team, there has to be vulnerability and there has to be that psychological safety,” Minor said.

Great Phoenix Chamber President Todd Sanders agrees.

“Somebody was having some burnout and the manager says, ‘well you should just relax. Relax harder.’ That doesn’t work. You don’t relax harder. So how do you kind of create structure that allows people to have that time,” he recalled.

Minor said companies can make a difference and it starts with this one step.

“Coaching your people leaders or your managers to just be good humans, goes a long way,” he proclaimed.

It’s something Moore is grateful she now has.

“Prioritizing mental health within the business community absolutely could save lives and is saving lives,” she stated.

It could be as simple as a conversation. Research shows just talking about suicidal ideation can help prevent deaths by suicide.

The new 988 mental health crisis number shows how much those talks are needed. In Arizona, data states the primary vendor in Arizona received an average of around 4800 calls a month recently.