It is Mental Health Week and the Canadian Mental Health Association is running a week long awareness campaign. We are being encouraged to #get loud – a trendy way of telling us to stop being embarrassed or callous and get on with learning about the issues.
Mental illness is difficult to understand. If you have never suffered from depression, it is hard to understand that someone cannot just “snap out of it” or “get over it”.
It is so easy to joke about a colleague’s behaviour instead of taking the time to try to understand what they might be going through.
There are many resources available to help us with this.
These sites offer free resources to employees, friends, colleagues, managers and HR Departments. There is a lot of good stuff here to help you get familiar with different types of depression, anxiety and other forms of mental illness.
I am not saying you need to become a psychologist for your cube-mate. There are Employee Assistance programs for that. But you can be more empathetic and understanding towards people who are having difficulty. You would hold the door for the guy with the crutches, right?
You know what would be a good start? If we took negative mental health references out of our everyday conversations. “That guy is crazy!” “My client just went nuts.” I think that would go a long way towards helping our friends and colleagues feel like there is more support and that they are not as alone.
So, read up and be nice. We are counting on you.