This month we are going to focus of something a little different for Safety. The mental health of our people.

We are all in the people business in some way, shape, or form. We all deal with people every day. It may be a customer, a friend, a family member, a coworker, supervisor or subordinate.

There is always a tremendous value in building a relationship with your people. Get to know them. Understand what motivates them, what irritates them, what makes them tic. We never know what people are dealing with on a personal level. Are they struggling? How is their mental health?

Mental illnesses affect 19% of the adult population, 46% of teenagers and 13% of children each year. People struggling with their mental health may be in your family, live next door, teach your children, or even work with you every day.

However, only half of those affected receive treatment, often because of the stigma attached to mental health. Untreated, mental illness can contribute to higher medical expenses, poorer performance at school and work, fewer employment opportunities and increased risk of suicide.

Although the general perception of mental illness has improved over the past decades, studies show that stigma against mental illness is still powerful, largely due to media stereotypes and lack of education, and that people tend to attach negative stigmas to mental health conditions at a far higher rate than to other diseases and disabilities, such as cancer, diabetes or heart disease.

Stigma affects not only the number seeking treatment, but also the number of resources available for proper treatment. Stigma and misinformation can feel like overwhelming obstacles for someone who is struggling with a mental health condition.

You may be wondering, why is the safety corner talking about mental health? It is a safety issue that everyone should be aware of. Wouldn’t you want know when and why you are not receiving an “A Game” performance from your people? Not only that but, what can you do to help?

Here a few powerful things you can do to help:

Showing individuals respect and acceptance removes a significant barrier to successfully coping with their illness. Having people see you as an individual and not as your illness can make the biggest difference for someone who is struggling with their mental health.

Advocating within our circles of influence helps ensure these individuals have the same rights and opportunities as other members of your church, school, place of employment and community.

Learning more about mental health allows us to provide helpful support to those affected in our families and communities.