MAY IS MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH. Since 1949, May has been designated as the month to raise awareness and educate the public about: mental illnesses, the realities of living with these conditions; and strategies for attaining mental health and wellness. It also aims to draw attention to suicide, which can be precipitated by some mental illnesses and to reduce the stigma that surrounds mental illnesses.
As the month of May comes to a close, I couldn’t let it end without expressing my sincere gratitude for the opportunities I’ve had so far this year, and this month in particular, to discuss mental health awareness in the workplace. In March, I had the pleasure of presenting at the North Alabama SHRM (NASHRM) Workshop on Creating the Best Place to Work for Your Employee. In April, I did a video interview for WorkHuman with Dan Tomasulo & Steve Pemberton on Igniting Hope to Combat Mental Health Challenges. This month, in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I co-presented a webcast on Developing Empathy During Times of Uncertainty with Jarik Conrad and wrote a whitepaper on Mental Health in the Workplace During Times of Uncertainty, both for Ultimate Software. Last, but certainly not least, I was interviewed for Osasu Arigbe’s blog. Each of these opportunities was a true honor!
I have dedicated my career to helping people in one form or another, but this by far is the most rewarding. THIS is my mission. I see every aspect of my work, of my life really, through a mental health friendly lens which ties directly into diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. As an HR practitioner, it’s so important to me to help employers understand how critical it is to support employee mental health and show them how to do so. Employees must also understand the importance of maintaining good mental health and that if they are experiencing mental illness or another type of mental health crisis, there are resources available to support them.
I will continue to do this critical work and to be grateful for every opportunity to share my story and to help employers, to borrow a phrase from NASHRM, create the best place to work for their employees.
NOTE: I would be remiss if I did not mention the particular toll on Black mental health that is occurring during this challenging time. In addition to dealing with a staggering number of deaths from COVID-19 in the Black community, almost daily we are exposed to another racist incident that leads to a Black person being harassed, assaulted and in the worst cases – murdered. THIS IS NOT OK. We often speak on the grace we need to extend to our employees in the face of the coronavirus health crisis – greater flexibility, remote work options, understanding why their child is on the Zoom call, etc. Please let us also remember to extend grace to our colleagues who are dealing with constant assaults on our very humanity.