How can counselors help tackle the mental health epidemic

In recent years, especially since the pandemic, mental health problems have become a common topic of conversation. Such is the scale of the epidemic that people across society can no longer avoid discussing mental health. Even government health policymakers have had to take note and prioritize mental health care. While they have a lot of ground to make up, it is encouraging to see that government agencies, education facilities and businesses now have mental well-being programs in place to prevent and counter the problems.

But who pens the mental health resources and supports governments, businesses and organizations in creating mental health policies and programs? This article examines the role counselors play in tackling the mental health epidemic raging through society. It also delves into how the most qualified mental health professionals help agencies and businesses in the prevention and care of mental health issues where individual support is not available to them.

Mental health experts are required urgently

With an estimated 50 million or 21% of all Americans experiencing some mental health issue, the need for action has never been more pressing. The figures stem from a 2023 Mental Health America (MHA) survey, highlighting how mental health struggles not only have an impact on individuals but also their families, workplaces and communities. Absence from education or work is only one of the many repercussions. As a result, companies, colleges and businesses have no choice but to make support available.

On a societal level, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an agency within the US Department of Health and Human Services, promotes mental and behavioral health. By making funding available, establishing research projects and supporting the delivery of mental health care, the federal government partners with the states to provide mental health services and shape policies.

Federal protections exist to shield sufferers from discrimination in the workplace or education. For their part states legislate for, and regulate, mental health care services, tackling issues regarding treatment, records and care delivery standards. The expertise behind the best mental health care policies comes from experienced professionals and stakeholders.

Today, experts like doctors of counseling, psychology or psychiatry collaborate with government agencies, politicians, educators and business owners to develop and implement the best mental health prevention and treatment policies, structures and services.

How professionals shape mental health responses across society

Governments rely on the expertise of frontline mental health staff when legislating for mental health provision and creating nationwide and state-wide mental health services. The most qualified mental health professionals, including doctors of psychiatry and counseling, provide the necessary insights and experience, which lie at the heart of mental health care.

Mental health professionals interested in promoting mental well-being on a broader scale, for example across communities, need to be highly qualified and may consider earning a relevant doctorate. This can be done through remote programs such as the online doctorate in counseling offered at American International College (AIC). AIC has designed an integrated curriculum that molds its students into capable counselors and educators. At an administrative level, agencies and businesses develop appropriate mental health care structures with the help of these experts. Companies, government departments and educational facilities hire the most knowledgeable mental health consultants to help shape and implement mental health care across businesses, institutions and wider society.

Global recommendations for the large-scale promotion of mental health

A 2014 publication in The New Public Health outlines the World Health Organization’s official directions to governments for providing mental health services. It recommends targeting the following groups:

  • children
  • women
  • elderly citizens
  • vulnerable groups including minorities, migrants and disadvantaged populations

The recommendations also call on businesses and those in education to prioritize mental health among staff and students. Community mental health care as well as the creation, and implementation, of mental health campaigns are also included among the measures recommended by the World Health Organization.

Mental health professionals can contribute to the inception and delivery of these measures by providing expertise and first-hand experience. In doing so, they can participate in tackling the current mental health crisis.

Mental health policy in business

With rising burnout rates, mental health care is now an imperative among businesses. If staff members enjoy good mental well-being, they are likely to produce better results, which ultimately add to the bottom line. According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, employees in companies with mental health support systems are more productive, loyal and content.

Many companies now make counselors or wellness programs available to staff. They run mental health days and encourage employees to open up about their struggles. While a broader and more consolidated response is necessary, more and more business owners have recognized the importance of mental health care, relying on hired experts for the creation and implementation of relevant programs.

Mental health education for individuals, parents and children

Schools and colleges have been the most active in their response to mental health concerns. On most campuses, students can contact mental health professionals if they are struggling. Educators have been instrumental in reducing stigma and encouraging students to put their mental health at the center of self-care.

In tandem with highly-trained mental health professionals, educational facilities have put mental health care programs in place. Counselors play a crucial role in one-to-one consultations and promoting campus-wide mental wellness.

Even at the elementary school level, mental health is now a topic, with teachers and consultants promoting awareness and equipping children with coping tools.

The pressing need for outspoken counselors

The need for knowledgeable and outspoken counselors and mental health professionals has never been more significant. Millions of people are experiencing one or more issues, and it is up to communities, governments, businesses and workplaces to support sufferers. And they can only do so with the help of passionate mental health professionals.

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