Mental Health is Physical Health

Graphic of mental health

A report recently issued by the American Heart Association affirms the connection between mental and physical health.

It calls for major employers to take the lead in changing the state of mental health today, notably, by ending the stigma associated with mental illness.

That’s an urgent call. Mental illnesses are not just incapacitating by themselves. They are also firmly linked to much greater risks of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and COPD. Just the prevalence of mental illness should sound alarms. Approximately one American in five will report a mental illness this year. These impacts ripple through families, communities and workplaces. Yet too many people are reluctant, even afraid, to seek advice or treatment, often because of shame or stigma.

The time has come for new approaches, and these can start in the workplace, where we spend thousands of hours each year, most of it in collaboration with others.

That’s why I am proud to place Amgen’s name on the roster of major companies endorsing the latest report from the CEO Roundtable of the American Heart Association. This report, Mental Health: A Workplace in Crisis, sheds new light on how mental health issues affect us in the workplace, and how we can help employees facing mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. The involvement of the American Heart Association reflects the deep connection between mental health and cardiovascular health. The two are entwined.

The new report provides seven actionable strategies for employers, starting with the will of leaders to make change happen. Amgen is recognized in the report as a role model for others to follow in building a healthy workforce on all fronts. We have a variety of programs and benefits that can help employees recognize mental health issues and open the doors to effective treatment. More important, our values as a company make clear the importance of respect, understanding, compassion and mutual aid.

There’s more to do, including working with allies in the community to amplify efforts to treat and prevent mental illness. I urge everyone to read the AHA report, and to follow its recommendations.

Let’s all start on the same page: health is health. By encouraging a total approach to health and ending the last vestiges of stigma around mental illness, we can make our workplaces better, and our work ever more meaningful.

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