World Mental Health Day: Breaking down stigmas

A startling 300 million people globally suffer from depression, yet we can't seem to get ourselves to talk about it openly.

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Tuesday, Oct. 10 is World Mental Health Day.

A startling 300 million people globally suffer from depression, yet we can't seem to get ourselves to talk about it openly.

So, we sat down with the folks at NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) to talk about this year's theme -- mental health in the workplace -- and to see how far we've come and how far we've yet to go.

"I've been with NAMI for 16 years and when I think back to the beginning days, no one talked about mental illness," said NAMI Executive Director Sue Abderholden. "No one talked about maybe themselves having symptoms or their family members."

Abderholden said now people are much more open to speaking out -- and there's a lot to talk about.

One in five adults experience mental illness in a given year.

One in 25 adults experience a serious mental illness.

"They still have the statistic that people live with their symptoms an average of 10 years before getting help," Abderholden said. "So during those 10 years you could lose your job, you could damage your relationships, you could hurt the other parts of our health care."

The World Health Organization found that mental health disorders cost the global economy $1 trillion in lost productivity each year.

"One of the things we see is someone who was doing well is all the sudden not doing well," Abderholden said. "Someone who never was tardy all the sudden is always tardy, they might not have as much stamina on the job, they have a harder time dealing with time pressures and deadlines."

Abderholden said those are symptoms that can go unnoticed.

"It might not be that someone is all the sudden becoming a bad employee, it might be that they are having symptoms of a mental illness and are not seeking treatment," she said.

There are things you can do to help.

"You don't want to try to diagnose the employee, but you can open up the conversation," she said. "'I've noticed that this hasn't been happening lately, is there something I can do to help you?'"

Abderholden said she's seeing more employers stepping up to the plate.

"Saying, 'This is an issue that we are concerned about, we want to do something more, what can we do?'"

What's next in the fight to break down barriers to treatment?

"The Affordable Care Act did actually help in making sure that health plans do cover mental health, but there's a lot of different types of treatment that private insurance doesn't cover and we need them to do that," Abderholden said. "I think everyone understands that people need treatment and it needs to be treated like any other ailment."

© 2017 KARE-TV


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