woman struggling with mental health

Mental Health Awareness Month has spotlighted mental health issues since 1949, promoting education around mental health while also attempting to remove the stigma that once plagued people seeking care. Top keynote speakers address the importance of mental health from a variety of angles, serving as messengers for greater well-being and self-care.

Is there a mental health crisis today, and how does it impact the workplace?

Sadly, raising awareness has become increasingly important. 5.5% of adults over the age of 18 suffered from “serious mental illness” in 2021, according to the “2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.” The number of people in the same age range experiencing “any mental illness” was even higher at 22.8%. And many more people experience less-than-optimal well-being due to anxiety and depression, low self-esteem, self-limiting thoughts, low resilience and more. This mental health reality impacts not only individuals, but also their performance in the workplace.

According to the 2022 “Gallup Panel” results, employees who “rate their mental health as fair or poor… report about four times more unplanned absences due to poor mental health than do their counterparts who report good, very good or excellent mental health.” Additionally, they take more unplanned absences than other employees (on average, 12 days to 2.5 days), which results in an estimated cost of “$47.6 billion annually in lost productivity.” Similarly, a 2019 report by Unum found that mental health issues account for 62% of missed workdays while also adversely impacting their focus, coworker and family relationships, overall productivity and other aspects of their work and personal lives.

How can companies contribute toward mental health solutions at work?

Keynote speakers specializing in well-being tackle these mental health issues head-on. As experienced storytellers, they engage and inspire your teams while providing real-world strategies needed to live healthier, happier and more resilient lives. Let’s look at some of the important mental health issues at work addressed by today’s top health and wellness speakers.

Build resilience for personal and company growth.

We all face difficulties. Yet, some people persevere seemingly unscathed. They bounce back quickly and without drama, a key skill for effective leadership. But it’s not that they don’t feel stress or hardship. Rather, they have developed psychological resilience. Fortunately, resilience is neither finite nor fully innate. As with many skills, one can learn to become more resilient through specific exercises and daily habits.

Consider the work of leading resilience expert Anne Grady. She knows the strategies needed to build resilience in uncertain times. A two-time TEDx speaker, author and entrepreneur, Grady began researching neurodevelopment and the brain after her son was diagnosed with severe mental illness and autism. Later, her own health issues led her to utilize the tools she learned from working with her son to persevere in the face of adversity, tools which were later codified in her books Mind Over Moment and 52 Strategies for Life, Love & Work.

“Your mindset is literally the story you tell yourself about yourself and your life,” Grady writes in a SUCCESS article. She continues on to say, “It helps to understand your brain and how it interprets your stories.”

In the same article, Grady explains that our brain “has evolved to overestimate the negative and underestimate the positive” as a form of self-protection. Through tested, mindful practices, she provides the tools needed to overcome life’s challenges and get unstuck when progress feels remote.

Develop a positive growth mindset for everyone on the team.

Self-limiting beliefs may impede our academic performance, career and personal lives. These self-imposed restrictions may not cause stress or unhappiness in the short term. In fact, confining ourselves to our existing notions of ourselves may serve as a defense mechanism to avoid stress. But over the course of our lives, this style of coping may prevent us from reaching our potential.

But there are solutions. Growth mindsets involve an understanding that our talents, abilities and even our intelligence are not fixed. Rather, we can grow into new roles and challenges. Plus, these growth mindsets can easily be cultivated and grown.

In this vein, growth mindset coach and keynote speaker Karen M. Allen is passionate about helping others reach their potential. Her “Stop & Shift mindset reset regimen helps remap minds with healthier thoughts and a more proactive approach in life. Resilient in her own right following the tragic loss of her husband, Allen has worked with institutions such as Google, YouTube and Experian while hosting her In the Details mental fitness podcast.

“As a leader, developing a growth mindset is key to your success,” Allen’s “Leading with a Growth Mindset” course description states. “It has the potential to increase creativity, motivation, empathy, ambition, self-improvement, brain development, performance levels and so much more.”

Improve mental health at work through movement, nutrition and meditation.

Mind and body—mental and physical health—are inextricably connected. Study after study links physical fitness with mental and cognitive well-being. Likewise, the American Psychiatric Association and Healthline cite multiple studies regarding the link between good nutrition and improved mental health, including the treatment of depression.

But diets and exercise can be difficult to adhere to. Try taking small steps when developing the body and improving personal mindset—literally, go at it one step at a time.

“Walking is meditation,” says health and wellness expert Mo Brossette in a video interview with Grady. “If I walk outside, and I just breathe… and I look at the trees and I look at the leaves… I’m doing a mindfulness practice. I’m paying attention to something, in the present moment, without judgment, on purpose. That is meditation.”

As Brossette explains on the podcast Brilliant Thoughts, no first action is too small, and steady improvement wins the race.

“With people, I start with breath,” Brossette says. “You’ve got time to take 10 breaths before you get out of bed. When you can learn how to control your breathing on a regular basis, you can start your day with relaxed diaphragmatic breathing.”

Mental health awareness reduces the risk of severe illness and suicide.

Mental Health Awareness Month reminds us to maintain overall psychological health and well-being. But even with proper care, our cognitive systems sometimes falter and break, and that can be a cause for concern.

According to data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one death by suicide occurred every 11 minutes in the United States in 2021. Equally alarming, more than 12 million adults had serious thoughts about taking their own lives.

Author, documentary filmmaker and global keynote speaker Kevin Hines knows the experience of suicidal ideation beyond the data. He has experienced it himself. He attempted suicide in 2000, and his first thought after leaping from a bridge was one of regret.

Today, Hines speaks on the topic of better mental health and suicide prevention. As a motivational speaker and leader of the #BeHereTomorrow movement, he travels the world to help others build resilience and improve wellness. His inspirational book, Cracked, Not Broken, as well as his transformative and life-saving film, Suicide: The Ripple Effect, reach readers and viewers deeply from a space of personal experience.

As Hines’ mantra goes: “Life is a gift; that is why they call it the present. Cherish it always.”

For his life-saving work, Hines has received the Clifford W. Beers Award from Mental Health America, their highest honor, as well as other prestigious awards for his ongoing role in assisting others in self-harm prevention.

Learn more about suicide prevention, including important hotlines, at cdc.gov/suicide.

For booking information regarding any mental health awareness speakers mentioned in this article, contact the SUCCESS Speakers Bureau.