Written by Shane Ferro, Business Reporter, The Huffington Post
01/10/2016 09:39 am ET
One somewhat unfortunate reality of living in the United States is that health care is inexorably tied up with employment, for better or for worse.
On the plus side, employers generally provide health insurance at a subsidized rate and may have other programs to encourage better physical health in the workplace.
But there’s more to health than physical well-being, and companies often fall short on the mental health front.
Mental health in the workplace is neglected and rarely, if ever, addressed, says Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, the chair of the psychiatry department at Columbia Medical School. When companies do address it, he says, “it’s addressed in kind of a touchy-feely, motherhood-and-apple-pie kind of way.” Essentially, we don’t take mental health as seriously as we take our physical well being.
To some extent, corporations are beginning to realize that employees’ emotions affect their productivity. Many companies, including The Huffington Post, offer opportunities for their workers to participate in yoga and meditation. Others providefull fitness centers or wellness counseling.
But those are mostly environmental changes. As a society, we have a hard time getting serious about the clinical side of mental health because there is still a stigma attached to it.
“What doesn’t get addressed [by companies] is the more medical side of mental health,” according to Lieberman. There’s little support at work for employees who struggle with mental illness or are just more susceptible to it.