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This CEO says he has to take anti-depressants to cope with work. He's not alone.

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This CEO says he has to take anti-depressants to cope with work. He's not alone.

WATCH: As part of Circa's new "Incuvators" business series, we spoke with Jackson Healthcare CEO Rick Jackson about the toll workplace stress takes on our mental health and how he's tackling it.

For many Americans, work is something you can't leave at the office. And it's taking a toll on your mental health. Even executives say finding stability is becoming more difficult.

But we rarely hear colleagues, especially those in the c-suite, open up about their struggles balancing work and life. So why aren't more people talking about it?

Rick Jackson, chairman and CEO of Jackson Healthcare, told Circa the reason has to do with public perceptionand personal acceptance.

I'm one of them.
Jackson Healthcare CEO Rick Jackson

"It's not just stress and all that but you're making decisions that affect people that work with you. If you care about people, that is a huge drain," Jackson told Circa in a series called "Incuvators," adding that, "60 percent of all CEOs are on depression medicine, and I'm one of them."

Circa couldn't verify the number of executives on depression medication, but the CDC estimates 11 percent of Americans over 12 take anti-depressants.

Other research has also suggested that being in a leadership position could be correlated to depression. A study out of William & Mary, for example, said chief executives might become depressed at double the rate of the general public, which is at about 20 percent.

A former Fortune 500 CEO, Philip Burguieres, famously stepped down from his position over fears there would be backlash regarding his mental health problems. He now counsels CEOs and has said, "Depression is chronic and widespread in the executive office."

Experts say it's critical to take a deeper look at what's stressing out America's workforce and recognize how unique it is for leadership to speak up about their mental health struggles.

"One in five adults has a mental illness in the United States at any given point," Clare Miller, director of the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health, a program of the American Psychiatric Association Foundation, told Circa. 

As a society we're maxing out on what is humanly possible.
Clare Miller, APA

"It's a very common experience, what's uncommon here is that he's shared it," Miller said. 

The APA has worked with companies like American Express, Prudential, Zappos and Puget Sound Energy on ways to address mental health at work. "As a society we're maxing out on what is humanly possible," she said.


At Jackson Healthcare, which serves more than 5 million patients in over 1,300 facilities, employees have access to a gym, spa and are paid to take time to volunteerall in the name of wellness.

For Jackson, his stress was a mental health issue he knew he needed to deal with as early as when he was 28. 

"I would have a psychological worry coat, almost like the coat of many colors, and hang it psychologically on the tree as I drove in," Jackson said. "That was my way of relaxing and not thinking about it."

Keith Miller, LICSW and psychotherapist who created a stress-reduction program for couples, says taking a mental health break and using it wisely think: taking a walk over thumbing through Facebook can really make a difference.  "When we're so disconnected from the sense of belonging, everything gets dark," he explains.

WATCH  |  The full "Incuvators" interview with Jackson Healthcare CEO Rick Jackson.

His main concern is that as efficient and useful as digital communications have become, they're "superficial" and "the currency of our connections has become inflated." 

He says if we don't rethink how we use technology and be attentive to our feelings, it could lead to further pressure and stress.


For her part, the APA's Clare Miller agrees. And in Jackson's case, she says, "He’s giving everyone permission to take care of themselves and setting that expectation and setting that culture from the top."


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