Today begins Mental Health Awareness Week. As an organization, we are committed to creating an organizational culture that advocates mental health awareness and support for our employees and students. Every year, 1 in 5 people will have a mental health problem or illness. 5 in 5 of us have mental health. Mental health is a state of well-being that is on a spectrum that is ever-changing. We may have a mental illness, and we may not; either way, we can all feel well one day and on other days not so much. We all have mental health. Good mental health is about having a sense of purpose, strong relationships, feeling connected to our communities, knowing who we are, coping with stress and enjoying life. We need to take care of ourselves and the people in our lives, both professionally and personally. Just like we do our physical health, we need to be aware of the elements that impact our mental health and emotional well-being. We spend a significant part of our time at work and/or at school, so it is appropriate that we work together to create a college culture that supports mental health.
Your mental health is affected by numerous factors from your daily life, including the stress of balancing work with your health and relationships. Some of the factors that we have control over that impact our mental health includes:
Building awareness is the first step to acquiring knowledge and understanding and starting conversations about mental health in the workplace. Before you can articulate how you feel to others, you need to be able to articulate it first to yourself. Take some time to assess and listen to your body and mind to determine where you are. Determine what you can do to help strengthen your mental health and prepare yourself for the challenges that life sometimes presents to us in our day to day activities. As individuals equipped with information, tools and resources to support our mental health and those around us, we can help reduce stigma and build a safe and supportive work environment.
On Friday at our “Professional Development” day for employees, I look forward to sharing a program created by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) called “Not Myself Today”. The program provides us with the resources and tools to help create a culture that supports mental health awareness and reduces the stigma of mental illness through awareness and education. Mental Health is not just about what you do for yourself, by yourself—everyone needs healthy and supportive places to work, live and learn. I look forward to working with you all in creating a culture of understanding and compassion. Together we will make that happen.