Good mental health is fundamental to maintaining good physical health. And you want your employees to experience total worker health, correct?
The fact that the mind and the body cannot be separated results in an inseparable relationship between physical and mental health. Despite the fact that the connections are striking, integration of the two fields in worksite wellness programming still has not occurred in any meaningful way. Worksite wellness practitioners need to better understand the connections between physical and mental health so they can intervene more effectively with employees to improve the outcomes in both areas.
It is important to address the integration of physical and mental health for the following reasons:
• The individual employee’s mental health status or the presence of a mental illness such as depression or anxiety can affect an individual’s ability to undertake health promoting behaviors that address their physical health status. It is therefore critical that individuals have a better understanding of the integral link between all aspects of their health.
• Chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, or cancer can have a profound impact on an individual’s mental health.
• An individual’s mental health status affects an individual’s ability to participate in their treatment and recovery from a chronic disease.
• Family members and caregivers of people with chronic diseases are also affected psychologically thereby potentially resulting in their neglecting their own health.
Integrating all aspects of health within a worksite wellness program requires partnerships and integration at multiple levels. Integration and partnerships allow the partners to leverage their strengths and resources and to work on common goals. Integration needs to occur at the program level, the policy level, between vendors and potentially between the employer and community based resources.
The elements necessary to support integration include: