Making Mental Health Matter
Corinne Foxx @ Cannes Lions 2019
It’s World Mental Health Day! To celebrate, we want to ensure that we’re continuing to inspire women to share their stories around health and wellness. Who better to help us than Corinne Foxx? She’s an actress, founder, and now an activist who’s on a mission to make mental health matter. Here are some of her recommendations for how to practice self-care so that we can all create a life we love not just today but every day.
Equality Starts with Taking Care of Yourself
What if women cared for themselves in the same way they care for others? As the traditional primary caregivers, women often put everyone other than themselves first—at the expense of their health and happiness. But the truth is that, unless we put ourselves first, we won’t be our best selves. Stop thinking self-care is selfish. Start owning feminine characteristics as a strength. These traits, like empathy, relationship-building, and collaboration, can be superpowers in the workplace.
Offer Hope, Reduce Stigma and Inspire an Open Dialogue
We know that gender is a big determinant of mental health for both men and women. We know that media defines culture, and culture defines change. If we use the power of media and advertising as a force for good, we can eliminate stereotypes about gender that impact the mental and physical state of women. To create a more equitable world, as Corinne says, we can each ask ourselves, “Am I the best that I can be?” and, “Am I leading by example?”
“Mental health affects everyone: it doesn’t care about status, gender or race. I would like to see us prioritize mental health in the same way that we prioritize physical health,” says Corinne, adding, “When you break your arm, for example, there is a set of systems in place to fix it. But, with mental health, if you’re depressed, there’s no clear path to care, at least not in America where the healthcare system is ill-equipped to support those of us who are dealing with a mental health issue.”
As companies realize that emotional and psychological wellness isn’t an issue you can simply put a band-aid on, they’re investing more in comprehensive programs that support the health of not just their employees, but also the health and longevity of the entire company.
Look out for the Signs
“I also think education—knowing the signs and symptoms of different mental health disorders— is very important. Sometimes, when you’re in the midst of a mental health episode, you’re not sure why you’re experiencing symptoms,” Corinne shares.
According to the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, employees who consistently log long hours are more likely to develop heart disease, substance abuse issues, and depression. The World Health Organization estimates that 200 million days are lost from work annually due to mental health issues in the United States alone, costing employers upwards of $100 billion.
Companies are increasingly starting to provide mental health first aid to their personnel. Trained mental health first-aiders are designated to serve as a first responder for employees who are struggling with depression, anxiety, substance abuse, or psychosis. By adjusting work culture to be more inclusive, open, and understanding, employees will feel comfortable getting the care they need – and workplace performance will improve in the process. Like Corinne says, “If we know how to catch it and can say, ‘Okay, these are the signs of a bipolar manic episode,’ then we’ll know how to offer better help.”
Provide Access to Accurate Information
“If someone chooses to be vulnerable with you and asks for your guidance, listen carefully. Don’t approach the situation with judgment. In scenarios like this, we tend to do a lot of, ‘Oh, well I felt like that once too, honey— it will pass.’” That type of response discounts the feelings of the individual who is struggling. For women, who are prone to downplaying their feelings, this can be particularly damaging. “Try to be as present as possible but accept that you might not have all the answers,” Corinne says. You can support people close to you by connecting them with someone else who has the right solutions.
Investing in mental health support means that we all win. Employees are happier and more productive, and companies can build a commitment to well-being into their brand identity. So let’s end mental health discrimination for everyone in the workplace and beyond.
Watch our full interview with Corinne here and visit World Federation for Mental Health to learn more about World Mental Health Day, including this year’s focus on mental health promotion and suicide prevention.
For more on overcoming the stigma around mental health, check out:
In Her Words: Choosing the Employment Gap Part 2
Leaders Share Their Favorite Action Steps to #MakeEqualityMoves
How to Help a Colleague in Crisis
Corinne Foxx, the daughter of Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx, is an actress, writer, and CEO and Founder of Foxxtales. In 2016, Corinne graduated from the University of Southern California, with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations. She studied acting at the Howard Fine Acting Studio and American Academy For Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles. Corinne was honored by the HFPA and given the title of Miss Golden Globe in 2016. Corinne most recently starred in 47 Meters Down: Uncaged.