INBOX INSIGHTS, May 10, 2023: Mental Health Awareness

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Mental Health Resources – Mental Health Awareness Month

Hi. If you’ve been subscribing to this newsletter for a while you know that every now and then I take a break from tech and business so I can focus on you, the person. This is one of those newsletters. In this issue, I’ll be sharing mental health resources in honor of mental health awareness month. If talking about mental health is not for you for whatever reason, that’s okay. I’ll see you back here next week.

I’m Gen X. This means that I straddle the line of learning to keep things to myself (from my baby boomer parents) and being transparent about everything (from my millennial friends and coworkers). It can be tough to navigate, especially when you don’t want to “burden” other people with your issues (it’s not a burden, I promise). You may have been taught that seeking help was something to be ashamed of (it’s not).

In this newsletter, I want to share with you some resources that you may find helpful. You can ignore them, you can use them, it’s your choice. You can reach out to me, you can keep it to yourself, it’s your choice. You are in control of this conversation.

Did you know that more than 1 in 5 US adults live with a mental illness? For what it’s worth, I don’t love the word illness. Or disorder, or ailment. I feel that it continues to perpetuate the stigma around talking about and seeking treatment for mental health.

I don’t need to delve into my life story with you, but I can tell you that I’ve had my fair share of failures and tough times. I’m human. So are you. And as a human, I’ve had to learn how to protect my mental health, make it stronger, and help it recover.

With that, here are some resources you may find beneficial. Feel free to share these with others as well:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

The CDC has a good list of resources, from emergency lines to more specific types of support.

If the analyst in you is looking to dig around in the data, the CDC also lists publicly available data for anyone to review and use.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

The AFSP has a strong list of mental health resources for underrepresented communities.

Mental Health First Aid

This site has a more extensive, and more granular, list of resources for those looking for specific types of support.

Mental Health America

If you’re looking to take a more proactive approach and help others, this site has a lot of good ideas and resources to get started.

This is by no means an extensive list but rather a starting place. You journey will be personal to you and finding resources that suit yours needs will be as well. Finding support shouldn’t be overwhelming.

If you have other resources you have found helpful, please share them with me so I can share them with others. If you are looking for additional support, like a community of people, you can check out mine and join for free – Analytics for Marketers. We talk about more than marketing and the entire community is open and welcoming. You can join here.

If you want to talk one-on-one, feel free to reach out to me directly. I’m here. You can reply to this email or find me on social media.

Next week I’ll be back to dazzling you with another way to use the 5P framework to make your business run smoother! Until then – take care of yourself.

– Katie Robbert, CEO

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Data Diaries: Interesting Data We Found

In this week’s Data Diaries, let’s extend what Katie was talking about in the introduction and dig into the USA CDC’s Chronic Disease Indicators. One of the mental health-specific data points in the CDI dataset is a question that respondents answer nationally in the USA: how many mentally unhealthy days have you experienced in the last 14 days. This data is broken down by many different dimensions, but let’s take a look at just a few.

First, this dataset goes back to 2011, so we have about a decade’s worth of data. Let’s see what the answers have been:

Overall mental health

What we see here is that even at its lowest point, 2013, Americans reported an average of 3.64 days out of the last 14 days as being mentally unhealthy for them. Unsurprisingly, this shot up during the pandemic, but that’s not the cause of the lack of mental wellness. In fact, in aggregate, mentally unhealthy days broke a multi-year trend in 2020 before resuming their upward course.

It’s critical to point out that in terms of mental health, America was on a substantially unhealthy trajectory well before the pandemic.

Next, let’s break out by racial data. The CDI data isn’t especially granular here:

Mental health by race

The category of people who report the greatest mentally unhealthy days in a 14 day period are multiracial non-Hispanic folks, followed by Black non-Hispanic folks, then White non-Hispanic folks. Why might this be the case? One of the key facets missing from the CDI data is age; we don’t have any sense of age. However, Pew Research shows that the number of multiracial babies has increased from 1% of the population in 1970 to 10% of the population as of 2013. What this means is that people likely to identify as multiracial are inherently younger than the rest of the population.

And that in turn means you would expect a greater percentage of people willing to report mentally unhealthy days, because younger generations tend to have less stigma in talking about mental health.

Finally, let’s look at gender. The CDI data only incorporates two identified genders:

Mental health by gender

Both genders have experienced increases in mentally unhealthy days, though women far outpace men here. As with race, we have to ask whether or not the stigma of talking about mental health or even acknowledging it plays a role in responses; in the USA, men tend to be less open about mental health and mental wellness, though that’s slowly changing as younger generations are more open about it. Regardless of openness, the trend is visible in both sets of responses.

What’s clear from the data is that Americans of every demographic are experiencing more frequent mentally unhealthy days per two week period, and this trend has not only been occurring, but accelerating, in recent years. No one is exempt from this increasingly unhealthy environment. There are two key takeaways here.

First, for individuals, it’s clear everyone is under increasing strain. Be sure to follow Katie’s suggestions for additional resources and investigate different ways to manage your mental fitness. Find communities, resources, and methods that work best for you; like physical fitness, everyone’s experience will be individual. Just as some people love running and some people hate it, what works for one person in mental fitness will be ineffective for another. Find the mental and emotional workouts and “nutrition” that work best for you.

Second, for organizations and businesses in particular, take a good look at your mental wellness and fitness offerings to your teams. Do your benefits for mental health match those you provide for physical health? If not, why not? When we look at the CDI data above, we see that on average, almost 5 out of the last 14 days have been mentally unwell for the average person – and there’s a good chance those days are at work. What would your productivity and employee retention rates be if you could reduce those unwell days? How much happier and more engaged would employees be if they felt mentally well more often? What would evaluations and reviews look like if mental health were a component of employee reviews, if employees had the opportunity to rate and review how supportive the company, their manager, and their team was towards overall mental wellness?

Finally, the conditions for mental wellness are becoming tougher to create by the day. Disorders like Long COVID – a type of inflammatory disorder – also have substantial mental health impacts and may affect a substantial minority of every population in the world. Combine that with everything else going on in the world, and it’s tougher to maintain and improve your mental fitness. If you don’t already have a mental fitness plan in place, now’s the time to get started. It will pay substantial dividends to your life in the way physical fitness does – and the sooner you get started, the sooner you enjoy the benefits.

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