“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” might be on the playlist of a lot people during the holiday season, but, unfortunately, it’s a challenging time of year for so many more.
Extra stress, unrealistic expectations, less sunlight, increased financial burdens, changes in diet or routine, the inability to be with loved ones, or even sentimental memories can be a trigger for anxiety or depression. This year, we can also add the ever-present Covid dangers that weigh on the minds of essential workers to our holiday stress list. As much as the holidays can bring joy and merriment, they also can reveal cracks in our mental health and emotional well-being. The reality is everyone is dealing with something and mental health issues aren’t always just a seasonal thing.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is one of the most neglected areas of public health. Globally, close to 1 billion people struggle with mental health issues. The statistics are staggering.
Consider the following:
- 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year
- 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 10-34
- Mental health issues account for $193.2 billion in lost earnings each year in the U.S. economy
Our Union believes that mental health awareness is important for all of us because no one is immune to mental illness, regardless of occupation, gender, ethnicity, or any other marker of your identity. Mental health issues cannot be left at home, so it is vitally important for us to recognize that workplace health and safety should absolutely include mental health support.
A focus on mental health is needed now more than ever. It is critical for employers to provide support to workers who are experiencing struggles with mental health, and to work with employees and the Union to develop an effective workplace mental health strategy.
We are pleased that many of our represented employers offer Employee Assistance Programs that are available to Local 881 members. These consist of confidential hotlines, websites, or other resources to help struggling members get support. Whether you are battling with mental illness, seasonal depression, addiction, disease, stress, relational issues, or anything else please take advantage of the resources we have listed.
As we move towards the season which is based on family and cheer — be sure to keep your loved ones close. Reach out to those who might not have anyone else to reach out to them. And remember something else: it’s okay to not be okay. Just know that you don’t have to be “not okay” by yourself. The more we discuss with one another our personal battles, the more we are reminded that we are not alone – especially this holiday season.