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Mental Health: 2019


Around here, mental health is important. The problem is, it should be important everywhere.

When I say ‘here,’ I’m referring to LABUR, where our motto is people do business with people they like and who they can trust. But how can you like and trust someone if they don’t know the real you? The superficial level some people operate on is not a level I am interested in being on with people, especially if those people work with me, for me or if they’re otherwise in my network of close connections.

Mental Health Awareness Day: October 10, 2019

Those who know me know that Mental Health Awareness Day is important to me. I’ve been sharing my thoughts on mental health for a number of years now and we’ve prioritized mental health in the LABUR benefits package by offering additional days off to rest and recharge and by dedicating resources to health and wellness. Bouts of depression are known to spike around the holidays, so we also offer additional “LABUR Days” off in November and December, including the entire week off between Christmas and New Year’s.

Bottomline, the whole employee needs to be taken care of – mind, body and soul – and benefits packages should reflect that.

Not to mention, there are quite a few resources out there that can help protect people and their well-being when employers aren’t doing it for them, or who violate a person’s right to fair employment because of their mental illness.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, they highlighted these three:

  • Employees with a mental illness are generally protected from discrimination by U.S. disability-rights law.
  • Employees who need time off because of a diagnosed mental illness are typically protected from discrimination by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Also pointed out by the Wall Street Journal, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act may provide job-protected leave without pay.

Defining Mental Health – and How Younger Generations are Coping

In another Wall Street Journal article, There Is a Mental-Health Crisis on Campus, college students shared their points of view on the rise of mental health issues. Among the cited reasons were technology, specifically access to social media, unhealthy competition and the pressure to be successful.

When we’re constantly comparing ourselves to one another – whether it be college students comparing themselves to fellow college students or businesses comparing themselves to their competition – there is a healthy level and there are unhealthy levels of self-evaluation that can quickly lead to self-deprecation. The plugged-in nature of today’s world makes it easier than ever to always be comparing ourselves to one another – and it’s starting to take its toll. For this reason, we try to provide critical feedback in one-on-one meetings here at LABUR and publicly praise the team on the collective job well done versus only acknowledging individual contributors. Building a community, and feeling part of that community, is so important – especially at work.

So, what is mental health anyway and what are the signs? Common forms of mental health issues include depression, anxiety, eating or sleeping too much or too little, and suicidal thinking.

And, alarmingly enough:

  • Moderate to severe depression among U.S. college students rose from 23.2% in 2007 to 41.1% in 2018.
  • Moderate to severe anxiety jumped from 17.9% in 2013 to 34.4% in 2018 (WSJ)

I personally wish I could make everyone feel happier, I really do. And fortunately, there are some really cool initiatives working to do just that:

  • #PIMPINJOY: www.theshopforward.com/collections/pimpinjoy, #PIMPINJOY is a movement, a celebration dedicated to people who may be going through a rough time…but they choose to find and spread joy in their daily lives.
  • The Joy List: joylist.nyc, The Joy List is a resource for people to find events that they can go to by themselves, and leave with a new friend. It’s a way to highlight the amazing work that people are doing to spread positivity and connectedness.

Life is hard. Period. And there are a lot of expectations, competing priorities and a constant deficit of time to get to it all. But I’m convinced, with the right support and the right team, anything is possible.

This article is dedicated to all of those who may be going through a tough time. Know that you have more support than you might think you do right now. I encourage everyone every day, but most especially today, to do something kind for someone else. Do it for a stranger, do it for your spouse, do it for your neighbor – just do something that tells someone you care. We’re all in this together. #WorldMentalHealthDay