May is Mental Health Awareness Month. While it has become more and more common for people to talk about mental health over the years openly, it wasn’t until the pandemic in 2020 that many employers began prioritizing benefits to help workers take care of themselves in this way. Now, The Mom Project wants to use Mental Health Awareness month as an opportunity to advocate for these benefits and encourage women and moms to seek employment with companies that offer them.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). In 2020, one in five adults will experience some kind of mental illness. Due to the tremendous increase in mental health needs resulting from the pandemic, 4.9 million adults in the U.S. could not access the care they needed for their mental health. Due to the significant rise in the need for mental health services, many people could not access mental health care simply because there weren’t enough providers to go around. Still, lack of insurance and or cost of mental health services also played a part in this number, and this is something employers can help.
What is the Significance of Mental Health Awareness Month?
Mental Health affects 20% of U.S. adults and 16.5% of kids between ages 6 to 17. These numbers are shocking as it is. But what’s even more surprising is that they’re likely higher than this because millions of people also have mental illnesses. But haven’t been formally diagnosed, either because they cannot access care or because they feel a stigma in admitting their struggle.
For generations, mental health was a taboo topic full of shame and embarrassment. However, just because people didn’t outwardly talk about mental health struggles does not mean they weren’t feeling them internally. This attitude toward mental illness left millions of people to suffer alone, even though treatment was available.
Because of Mental Health Awareness Month, attitudes around mental illness have changed over the years. Still, even though treatment is more widely understood and talked about opening today, millions of people continue to feel shame over their mental health struggles — and that’s why it’s so important to continue to observe things like Mental Health Awareness month. The more we talk about mental health, the more normalized it becomes, and the more people will feel comfortable seeking life-changing treatment.
Top Mental Health Concerns for Women and Moms
Generally speaking, mental health doesn’t discriminate. It can affect anyone at any given time. However, research has found women are more susceptible to specific diagnoses (but they’re also more likely to seek treatment than men). Additionally, symptoms of several mental illnesses often present differently in men and women, so even if a woman isn’t at an increased risk of a specific diagnosis, the effects may be more difficult for her than a man.
For women, some of the top mental health concerns include:
Recent research indicates that ADHD may be more prevalent in girls/women than previously thought because symptoms present differently in females than males, often resulting in misdiagnosis. However, as it stands, ADHD is more commonly found in boys/men.
Employer Mental Health Benefits to Look For
Many factors play into a person developing a mental illness. An employer can offer nothing that will eliminate their employees’ risk of suffering from a mental health condition. However, companies can create a culture that promotes prioritizing mental health and well-being and offers benefits to make it easier for employees to access treatment and take care of themselves when necessary.
As a job seeker, if working for a mental health-friendly employer is essential to you, here are some benefits and perks to look for:
A culture that encourages rest, taking time off, and disconnecting from work
Free access to paid mental health apps and services (like Calm)
Taking Care of Your Mental Health
While employee mental health benefits are essential, they will only help you if you take advantage of them. Women need to prioritize their mental health as much as possible because mental illness can spiral and intensify without treatment (whether it’s medical treatment or daily yoga practice).
Some ways you can take care of your mental health include:
Use your PTO, and not feel ashamed for taking a “sick” day for your mental health
Mental Health Awareness month is about speaking up and normalizing conversation around mental illness and mental health treatment. This month (and always), we encourage The Mom Project’s community to share your stories and to offer support to those around you who may not know where to start with their journey. Remember, your mental health matters just as much as your physical health.
Join a community that cares
The Mom Project supports women throughout their working motherhood journey. Search for career opportunities with vetted, family-friendly employers, and get access to job search tools, career development resources, and a thriving community of moms and allies.