Supporting Mental Health Worldwide and in Our Own Backyard

April MitchellU.S. & Global Head, CNS Marketing

As the U.S. & Global Head of CNS Marketing at Otsuka America Pharmaceutical , Inc. (OAPI), I am responsible for all marketing efforts for two products approved for the treatment of serious mental illness. During my 25-year career in sales and marketing I have worked for major consumer brand and pharmaceutical companies including Eli Lilly and Company, Kraft Foods, Colgate-Palmolive, Frito-Lay, and Allergan (Warner Chilcott). I joined Otsuka in 2013 and I am proud of the work we are doing and how we are making a difference in the lives of people living with mental illness.

Mental illness will touch most of us at some point in our lives, whether directly or indirectly. And the numbers show it. Approximately 1 in 5 adults (43.8 million) in the U.S. experiences mental illness in a given year and nearly 1 in 25 adults (10 million) live with serious mental illness. But as common as mental illness is, less than half (41%) of adults in the U.S. with a mental health condition get the help they need. The stigma associated with mental health conditions continues to play a large role in preventing people from getting diagnosed and treated.As a company dedicated to improving the lives of people living with mental health disorders, Otsuka is committed to ending the stigma associated with these conditions. Through increasing education and opening the lines of communication with patients, health care providers, and caregivers, we are working towards lifting the cloud of stigma and shame that so often accompanies a mental illness diagnosis.While mental health education is a priority for Otsuka every day, Mental Health Awareness Month (May) presents even more opportunities to support awareness and educational efforts in the greater community and in our own corporate community. Here are a few examples of how Otsuka is involved in Mental Health Awareness Month and how you can get involved too!Mental Health America (MHA) #4Mind4Body CampaignThis month marks the 70th anniversary of Mental Health Awareness Month, a nationwide public awareness and education campaign for mental health which was started by Mental Health America in 1949.  Otsuka is proud to co-sponsor this year’s campaign, “4Mind4Body,” which provides tools and strategies for boosting mental health and general wellness, including topics such as animal companionship, spirituality, humor, and work-life balance. To download the tool kit, click here.Walk for Mental HealthIn support of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Otsuka is joining the more than 50,000 people in almost 100 communities across the country who are participating in regional walks from May through October. The goal is to raise awareness of mental illness and raise funds for local, regional and state NAMI organizations. NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization and provides education and support for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. For more information and to find a walk near you Click here 

Take the StigmaFree PledgeTake a stand against stigma by taking The StigmaFree pledge. Created by NAMI, the goal of the StigmaFree campaign is to encourage acceptance and understanding of mental illness and create hope for those affected by these disorders. Complete the simple online form here and then share your StigmaFree status on social media. Here are a couple of suggested posts:
    • I'm inspired to build better lives for those affected by mental illness. I'm #StigmaFree. Are you? www.nami.org/stigmafree
    • Mental illness doesn't discriminate based on race, gender, identity or age. Be #StigmaFree www.nami.org/stigmafree
Supporting Mental Wellness at WorkDuring our adult lives, a large proportion of our time is spent at work, so it stands to reason that workplace experience is an important factor in mental health. Mental health at work can have economic implications as well. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the estimated global cost of lost productivity due to depression and anxiety is US$ 1 trillion each year. Not surprisingly, workplaces that promote mental health and support people with mental disorders are more likely to reduce absenteeism and increase productivity.Making mental wellness a priority at work every day is an evident part of the Otsuka culture. Walking in to the Otsuka offices there’s a good chance you will see people socializing and even laughing. While we are serious about our work and our mission, our work environment is one where people are comfortable being who they are. Open floor plans invite interaction and collaboration. Most of the work spaces have low walls or no walls at all, allowing for employees to be more open, exchange ideas, and to get to know each other on a personal level, all of which contribute to mental wellness. Feeling a sense of pride and fulfillment are also important factors for mental health. Our work at Otsuka is focused on creating products for better health worldwide. We are passionate about what we do and take pride in how we are making a difference.
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