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'The Business of Health Care Report'

Mental Health Month

Click to hear the taped broadcast.

I’m Doug Hawthorne, CEO of Texas Health Resources, with “The Business of Health Care Report.”

May is Mental Health Month, and I’d like to encourage employers and employees alike to take a deep breath and relax.

It’s easy to get so wrapped up in our work that we forget to take stress-relieving breaks during the workday or find time on our calendars for a vacation. Wouldn’t you rather take time off to relax than spend your vacation days recovering from a stress-related illness?

A 2009 survey by Harris Interactive and revealed that roughly one-third of Americans do not take all of their vacation days each year, leaving an average of three vacation days unused. That translates to $63 billion worth of free labor given back to employers annually.

This may sound good for employers until you consider that U.S. companies spend $200 billion a year — more than three times as much — on stress and stress-related illnesses.

Stress has been linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep loss, headaches, tooth grinding, back pain, digestive problems, anxiety and depression. And the only way to minimize the negative effects of stress is to reduce the stress itself.

So do yourself and your workplace a favor: take stress-relieving breaks during the workday. And use your vacation time to relax, rejuvenate, and put things in perspective. If our workforce is healthier, everyone benefits.

For Texas Health Resources and its faith-based family of hospitals, Texas Health Presbyterian, Texas Health Harris Methodist, and Texas Health Arlington Memorial, I’m Doug Hawthorne.

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