Mental health has always been a pretty open subject in my family. Although, I have to admit we didn’t address it until the mid-to-late 1990s. Even though we were open about it, you didn’t discuss it with the outside world.
With the arrival of COVID-19 and the upheaval of everyone’s lives, mental health has finally become a hot topic. Suddenly, it is acceptable to discuss it in the workplace, schools, and just about anywhere else. We are no longer whispering about suicide but dedicating days and businesses to it.
What I find frightening is my daughter, Hadley, is in her senior year of high school and has already had three students in four years commit suicide. I spoke with one of her friends, who was close to one of the victims this weekend. She kept saying, “If only he knew it would get better.” It was soul-crushing.
I tell kids that high school is usually the baseline of how bad life can get. I say, “Adulthood can be tough, but paying bills is a lot easier than going to high school!”
I am apprehensive about this generation of kids contending with the aftermath of the pandemic. So many of them lost rites of passage that we took for granted. Prom wasn’t that great, but for those who didn’t get one, how do you know for sure? There are just some things you have to experience.
The pandemic stole most of my son’s senior year. Since I cannot recreate his missed milestones, I’ve given him a lifetime pass to complain. I told him when things suck; he can play the “I never got my Senior Skip Day!” card.
Now we have adults forced to work remotely during the pandemic being forced back into the workplace. Some are joyously skipping back to their buildings looking for human contact, while others hope for hybrid or fully remote options. Not only is it the uncertainty of the times, but many got used to no commutes and being with their pets. I have been fully remote for twenty-one years and know I am no longer fit for human consumption. When stressed, I rub my dogs’ ears, which I know HR will frown upon when I do it to co-workers.
Businesses who are playing hardball with their employees’ needs are facing The Great Resignation. Unfortunately, even compliant companies are experiencing this phenomenon as humans are dealing with mental health repercussions.
It ALL comes down to mental health. I can tell you from experience that if what’s going on in the head is not healthy, nothing matters. People will walk away from everything if their brain is not in the right place.
So, where does this leave us?
We must look into how to deal with people holistically. The mind, body, and spirit need to be aligned.
Families, schools, and businesses need to address mental health in the same way you would a broken bone or diabetes. For example, you would never tell a person with cancer to “Snap out of it!” Instead, you would get them the medical attention they need and support them during the healing process.
Moving forward, dealing with mental health is going to be a make-it-or-break-it-moment. With mental health issues, the stakes are so high that we have no time to lose. So either support each other, or we could lose each other.
Hopefully, it won’t be a permanent loss.
How can we help each other in improving this mental health journey?