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May is a good time to take inventory of your mental health

Taking care of yourself when your job is taking care of others

Health and Benefits|Wellbeing
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By Carrie Khan and Erin Terkoski Young, MSW, MBA, LICSW | May 2, 2022

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a great time for human resources executives to take stock of your company’s mental health programs, and your own emotional wellbeing journey.

Taking care of yourself is important. It ensures that you’re able to be present and useful to those who rely on you. The airline safety announcement tells you to secure your own oxygen mask before helping those around you because you have to help yourself in order to be able to help others. The same holds true when it comes to your mental health. If you want to help others, you can’t neglect yourself.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a great time to take stock of your company’s mental health programs and your own emotional wellbeing journey.

Our 2021 Wellbeing Diagnostic Survey found that 86% of employers said that mental health, stress and burnout are a top priority. However, only a quarter have developed and adopted a wellbeing strategy while half (49%) have not yet formally articulated a wellbeing strategy for their workforce.

Human resources executives play a vital role in supporting and advocating for mental health. HR executives must be knowledgeable of the needs and preferences of the organization and can effectively influence and empower those around them to initiate and engage in programs and solutions.

Today’s HR leaders have more roles than the stereotypical HR function of yesterday. HR leaders are now advocates, coaches and consultants to business partners, managers and employees. Being the best version of yourself enables you to effectively bring out the best in others.

Tips to reset your own wellbeing

During the month of May, take inventory of your current mental health: What is working, what isn’t, and what changes might benefit you and ultimately those around you? You can push pause and do the following to reset your own wellbeing this month:

  1. Set a mental health goal for the month of May, engaging in practices such as weekly or daily mindfulness or gratitude exercises.
  2. Reflect on self-care, what it means to you and how to create space to care for yourself, like setting defined boundaries on your time and energy.
  3. Acknowledge issues that have not been addressed and may require clinical care, such as symptoms of depression or anxiety, or behaviors like disordered eating or disrupted sleep, and start the process of getting professional care.
  4. Prioritize movement and the value of the mind/body connection. If you exercise with others, they can also reap the benefit that endorphins can have on mental health.
  5. Empower others and do good around you. Offer praise to your colleagues, or share meaningful articles, books or information that intellectually stimulates others and creates appreciation in your organization.

Before leaders can truly help others, whether it is family, friends or co-workers, they must realize that their own mental health and actions surrounding their mental health care impact others. Lead by example; demonstrate to those around you that your mental health is important to you.

Think about what other steps you can take during the month of May to be an advocate for mental health for your colleagues, employees and family. Continue to show that mental health is part of being healthy, and being healthy is what you’re striving for personally and organizationally.

HR executives, business partners, coaches and consultants can play an important and visible role to advocate for addressing mental health needs in the month of May and throughout the year.

Authors

Senior Director - Health, Equity and Wellbeing

Senior Director - Health, Equity and Wellbeing

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