A few days ago, Andrew Morton, director of social engagement at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), wrote a very personal story about his military service, depression, and his family. It’s an excellent read that I would recommend to everyone because it offers a perspective about how mental health impacts everyone.
If you’re not aware, May is National Mental Health Month. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 adults will experience a mental illness in a given year. As business professionals, we need to be focused on this because it’s the right thing to do for our employees. And I hate to say it, but if that’s not enough to get senior management’s attention, pressure anxiety is bad for business. Stress can contribute to employee burnout. The American Institute of Stress cites research that job-related stress cost U.S. businesses over $300 billion a year in absenteeism, turnover, productivity, and health insurance costs.
So, what’s the solution? Unfortunately, I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that creating a culture where employees feel psychologically safe is important. Employees at every level need to feel that they can share their thoughts without fear of retribution. Not only does that openness lead to greater innovations for the business but it helps employees reduce stress and frustration.
It also helps for managers to practice and support employee well-being. My guess is there are managers – including human resources managers – who would love to take a mental health “break” every once in a while. If organizations want managers to support employee mental health, they need to walk the talk.
Several months ago, I discovered an app called Shine. It’s available on both iOS and Android and they offer a free and premium version. Shine focuses on well-being and self-care in the format of a daily text. I like it because, working from home, it can be a challenge to get that kind of motivational interaction. Shine offers me tips and resources to help me be my best self.
To acknowledge National Mental Health Month, Shine is encouraging individuals and organizations to take a mental health break on Wednesday, May 15 at 3p. Here are the guidelines: NONE! That’s right, just take a mental health break. No pressure. No rules.
- It can be 5-minutes or 50-minutes. You decide.
- It can include your favorite beverage or snack.
- It can include your favorite song blasted as loud as you want. (Well, maybe not too loud.)
- It can include your friends and colleagues. Or no one at all. Just you.
- It’s whatever you want!
And if you’re a manager or HR representative reading this, encourage your company to support employees taking a mental health break during the workday. And if everyone can’t stop working at 3p – well, to rework a famous phrase, “It’s 3p somewhere!” ha.ha.
In all seriousness, our mental health is important. Supporting our employees is important. This is a no-cost way to show employees the company cares. Do it. Support taking a mental health break on May 15, 2019.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of Fort Lauderdale, FL18