Mental health is being talked about more than ever and becoming increasingly important as it continues to show up on our favorite TV shows, in breaking news headlines and Hollywood’s most recognized celebrities addressing their own personal struggles.

Given that most of us spend the majority of our time in the workplace, it should come as no surprise that the work environment plays a significant role in our psychological health. Mental Health America recently shared that there is a serious mental health workforce shortage. In states with the lowest workforce, there is up to six times the individuals to only one mental health professional, yet 1 in 5 American adults suffer from depression or mental health concern at some point in their life.

Dr. Aaron Wilson is chief medical officer at Sierra Tucson.

The stigma on mental illness is a significant barrier to disclosing mental health struggles at work. An employee may feel ashamed, embarrassed or fear repercussions from reporting a mental illness. If someone is struggling with mental health issues in the workplace, one should evaluate any stressors that may be the source of the mental health issues and educate themselves on the resources available to them.

How can an employee deal with mental illness in the workplace?

• Seeking the assistance of a supervisor or trusted superior to address the work stressor can be important first steps in addressing work stress.

• Discussing mental health in the workplace helps eliminate fear of discrimination and allows for more flexibility when it comes to doctor appointments and other needs an employee may have. 

• Employees have access to Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). EAPs are provided to employees dealing with stress-related, emotional and psychiatric pressures that may limit their effectiveness on the job.

• An employee dealing with any mental health related issue should create a work-life balance strategy for themselves. An unhealthy workload increases anxiety and depression and having an outside passion or hobby helps increase positive thoughts.  

When is it time to speak to a doctor?

While nearly 40 million people in the United States suffer from a mental illness, few seek treatment. If significant mental health issues are affecting work performance, relationships and physical functioning, it is imperative to speak with a counselor or psychiatric provider. Following are some warning signs that it’s time to get help:

• Confused thinking

• Prolonged depression and sadness 

• Feelings of extreme highs and lows

• Excessive fears, worries, and anxieties

• Social withdrawal

• Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits

At Sierra Tucson, we recognize that those with personality or mood disorders frequently struggle with co-occurring disorders such as trauma, addiction, or chronic pain. For this reason, our staff uses an interdisciplinary team approach that incorporates both conventional and complementary evidence-based treatments to support the recovery process of each individual.

If you would like more information on the Mood & Anxiety Program at Sierra Tucson, or would like to get confidential help, call 877.616.9802 or visit