Sunday, October 10, 2021, is World Mental Health Day. It's a good time to reflect on how you are feeling. We each have a responsibility to ourselves to practice good self-care. Here are four ways you can take care of yourself and those around you:
1. Invest in our own mental health
To begin with, it’s important, perhaps now more than ever—given the pandemic, a divisive election, remote work changes, and uncertainty about whether offices will open up—to make investments in our own mental health. These investments can come in many forms, including, but not limited to, the following: investments in mental health apps, investments in speaking with mental health professionals, investments in exercise equipment, investments in movement classes, investments in time spent away from screens, investments in time spent in nature, investments in creative pursuits, investments in cleaning up personal finances, and investments in something as simple as better lighting in our home offices.
All of these investments can significantly improve our mental well-being, be made immediately, and, thanks to increasing insurance coverage for these types of investments by some employers, be made without spending too much of our own hard-earned money.
2. Invest in our families' and friends’ mental health
It’s also important to invest in the mental health of our family and friends—especially now, as cases of Covid-19 are rising again, thanks to the variants. An investment here don't have to require reaching into our pockets, but it does mean reaching out more. It means investing time to ask how those closest to us are really doing. It means investing energy into listening to those closest to us to find out how they’re actually feeling, coping, and dealing—and then asking if there’s anything we can do to help, even it’s just more listening.
For some of us, reaching out to friends and family can be especially difficult when you don't see eye to eye on divisive issues of the day. There are no simple solutions for these tricky conversations, but perhaps keep this in mind: Even if we disagree with those close to us on many issues, we certainly appreciate it when they reach out to us to ask about our well-being.
3. Invest in our colleagues’ mental health
For many of us, it’s been a long time since we met with our colleagues in person. Are they struggling with remote work? Do they worry they might lose their jobs? How are they finding remote work? Are they finding it hard to concentrate? Are they feeling lonely, down, fatigued, stressed out? Without in-person coffee breaks or lunch meetings, we have to ask via Zoom, Slack, FaceTime, or Skype. That's okay. The important thing is to ask—in some way, shape, form, or app.
We might also, in lieu of asking a single colleague directly, gather a group of close colleagues together and hold a Zoom mental health hour—during which colleagues are given the opportunity to openly and safely share how they’re really doing, feeling, dealing, if they’re having any issues, anxieties, struggles, etc. Chances are many colleagues are now facing similar issues and struggles—and will take comfort in the fact that they’re not alone. Which can only bring colleagues and work teams closer together, in turn boosting camaraderie and productivity, not to mention overall team mental health.
4. Invest in our companies' investments in mental health
Many employers have come a long way when it comes to investing in employee mental health. Companies realize that mental health is correlated with job performance, productivity, engagement, communication, and physical capability and daily functioning. Some companies now support, monetarily, the mental health of their employees, subsidizing professional therapeutic sessions, mental health apps, mindfulness and meditation courses, clinical screenings, counseling, stress management programs, and more.
Other companies still have a long way to go—there’s still too little investment in employee mental health. There’s no better time than now to think about where our employers are currently investing when it comes to mental health benefits and where our employers could invest more. To address areas that are lacking, we can band together with our colleagues to ask management to do better, explaining that increased investment in mental health ultimately leads to healthier, more productive, more profitable employees—and thus healthier, more productive, more profitable companies.
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