Mental health is a topic that we hear so much about these days. In fact, I am proud to see that the world is becoming more progressive around the topic of mental health. It is one of the most important life pillars and one that has been overlooked for years. The topic of mental health was once seen as taboo and sacred. However, we are living in a time where the spotlight is being put on this subject. With increasing pressure, busy schedules and chaotic lives, we all find it challenging to balance everything. More importantly, many are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with all of the demands of life. I want to share just a few insights about maintaining mental soundness in a world that is fast-paced and noisy.
- We have to acknowledge that many in the world are dealing with mental health issues. According to U.S. News and World Report, 3.9% of adults aged 18 or older have experienced psychological distress in the past 30 days. This same research study finds that 7.6% of persons aged 12 and older have depression in any two-week period. Furthermore, 8.4% of children aged 6 to 17 have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression. The statistics are startling and the findings are troubling. It is clear that mental health issues are affecting so many people. I am so glad that the elephant in the room is being confronted. I have found in my work that what you acknowledge you have the power to address. People are starting to have conversations and I believe that conversations are the catalyst to change. We are at a tipping point moment. As we are open and honest about our mental health, it removes the stigma and the shame and empowers individuals to seek the help that they need.
- We must address the mental health crisis of our time. Research from U.S. News & World Report states that suicide is the second leading cause of death in 10 to 34 year olds. While some may not understand the seriousness of the mental health crisis, this statistic alone will shake you to your core. It is not enough for us to simply acknowledge that we have a mental health crisis. We must also have the courage to address the mental health crisis of our time. For too long we have ignored this crisis and avoidance is dangerous. It is important that we have conversations about it. We must continue to push for care for those dealing with mental health issues and we must become advocates for the mental health of our loved ones. We must all be actively involved in identifying signs and triggers in our loved ones and supporting them in whatever way we can to get the treatment or care that they need. I try to pay attention to signs in the lives of my loved ones so that they never feel like they are alone. In addition, I try to create a safe space where the people in my life can express their hearts without judgment.
- We need to be sure that we have life advisors. My best friend is part of what I call my cabinet of life advisors. These are people that help me make important and informed life decisions, help me navigate crises, are brutally honest with me and love me unconditionally. Every single person needs life advisors. One of the reasons that my mental health has remained strong is because of my best friend. He is always kind, patient, perceptive of changes in my life and very sensitive to changes in my mood or emotions. In fact, I have often said I am fine but he will speak to me in a very kind but stern way to let me know that everything is not okay. While he has been there for me many times over the years, I have also been there for him. We support each and other and we have created open and honest communication where we are able to talk about anything. More importantly, we have built trust and it is one of the things that has made our relationship so strong. I have other advisors in my life as well that have impacted my mental health. However, no relationship has impacted my mental health more than my best friend. I am very much an introvert. However, you must be careful not to become isolated. One thing I know about isolation is that it will cause you to implode. You need to surround yourself with people that are strong in the areas that you are weak. You need to fill your life with individuals that can advise you through various life cycles and seasons. The journey of life was never intended to be taken alone. Relationships nurture, anchor and empower us to live peaceful, joyful and whole lives.
- Create a culture where mental health is valued. It is great to talk about mental health and to have life advisors. However, it is even better when you create a culture where mental health is valued. In my organization, I have made mental health a top priority. The culture of comparison and competition has corroded the corporate world. I see too many people that have pushed themselves to the brink of exhaustion and a mental breakdown. Do not be afraid to take a mental health day if you need to. Create a culture in your organization where you value people more than performance. Schedule wellness checks with your team and take time to see how they are doing beyond the duties and responsibilities of the job. Our organizations can only be as strong as the people that undergird them. We must make it a priority to create workplaces and cultures where people are valued and feel safe. Be an advocate for mental health and be open with those that you lead about your own journey. This is how we break down walls, remove stigmas, erase shame and bring honor to the subject of mental health.