May is Mental Health Awareness Month. It’s been observed in the U.S. since 1949 and was started by the Mental Health America organization.
I recommend visiting the group’s website. It’s full of resources, especially the 2023 toolkit that you can download with articles and social media materials, printable informational handouts, posters and DIY tools.
Also, read our article “Cultivate Calm ” for more about how mental health challenges affect the workplace and best practices that employers can implement to improve staff work lives.
“Our most successful mental health practice is making a discussion about mental health part of our everyday routine,” says Pam Cohen, SVP/people, culture and administration at $6 billion Affinity Federal Credit Union. “We, as leaders and as HR professionals, need to get a bit vulnerable with our employees so that the discussions continue and that employees feel comfortable asking for help.”
I couldn’t agree more. This year I have tried to model better behavior and be upfront with colleagues about my struggles. In January when my seasonal affective disorder came in strong, I told my team. I worried my depression would affect my interactions with them, so they needed to know what was going on. Thankfully, my workplace is very accommodating and understanding. Sadly, I know not everyone has this privilege. I hope we can collectively work on normalizing discussions about mental health challenges.
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, we published several articles about mental health and self-care—and you read them. The crisis forced many of us to get serious and even proactive about mental health and self-care. (Find them by searching for “self-care”.) One thing I find really cool about self-care is how different it can look. For some, it might be getting up early to enjoy their morning beverage in a quiet house or going for a sunrise run. That is not my kind of self-care. I relish Saturday mornings when I can wake up on my own schedule, without an alarm. My other self-care practices include reading every day, crafting with friends on Friday night and my mom on Sunday afternoon (via Zoom), and swimming outside in the summer. For others, it might be cooking a beautiful meal for their family, playing board games with friends or putting their phone “to bed” in another room. I encourage you to figure out what self-care means to you and to carve out time for it daily, or at least weekly.
The staff team tasked with creating a fun organizational culture at CUES is planning a “Summer of Self-Care” for employees. While we’re still finalizing the details, we’re hoping to stretch activities across several summer weeks. Our ideas include:
- sending a care package with CUES swag focused on self-care (think water bottle, sunscreen and more);
- planning virtual team-building activities and games;
- sponsoring a team for a Madison, Wisconsin-area Relay for Life walk; and
- sending out gift cards to spend on something that means self-care to each team member (a massage, new running shoes, golf time, craft supplies, you name it!)
I wish you all a healthy May! cues icon