May Mental Health Awareness

Welcome to May!

While we have many months that are designated to bring awareness to a variety of worthy issues, the month of May is Mental Health Awareness month. Each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental illness. Having a mental illness is not a fault or a badge of dishonor. It does not mean you are not strong enough to tough it out. You are a better person for accepting your illness and seeking the help to overcome what is hurting you either physically, mentally, or both. Those who choose to dismiss mental health as an illness are only lacking the knowledge and understanding that not all injuries need to be treated with a bandage.

We would like to highlight this month for a variety of reasons.

First, we have witnessed a significant increase in Mental Health issues throughout our employers and workgroups. These mental health issues can be very apparent or in most cases, very unapparent until you speak to the individual who may be struggling with some sort of mental health issue.

As a society we tend to look for obvious signs of trauma or disability. Broken bones, bandages, apparent injuries, or outward mental distress. While these are traditionally easy to visibly see; many mental health issues do not present themselves in forms you can visibly see. How do we find them?

Pay attention to those around you…
Is your coworker, family member of close friend, acting differently?
Are they withdrawn, secretive, combative?
Have their day-to-day interactions become wholly different than in previous times?
Are they acting out in ways not previously seen?
Has their work performance suddenly or gradually become very poor?

These can be indicators of mental health issues that don’t appear as obvious signs of injury.

Perhaps the most important thing we can do is ask a question:
Are you doing ok?
Is there anything you would like to talk about?
This can lead to a conversation that may allow you to recommend that they seek help for any mental health issue they may have.

Our employers have a multitude of benefits to help you and your family members with mental health issues. Seek them out if you yourself need them or if you know someone who does.

The state of Indiana has a multitude of resources available by calling the Be Well Crisis Helpline.  Just dial 211 (or 1-866-211-9966) or go online by visiting the Be Well Indiana website:
“From unexpected challenges to navigating daily responsibilities, to experiencing personal loss or trauma, it’s not uncommon to experience grief, stress, depression or worry. The good news is there are steps you can take, resources you can discover and people you can reach out to who can help at Be Well Indiana.”

I urge you to help break the stigma of mental illness for yourself, your coworkers, your neighbors, and your loved ones. Don’t take a head down approach or walk away from difficult conversations. Don’t judge someone for their bad day, bad work performance, bad attitude; they may be in the midst of a mental health crisis that you cannot see.

Be kind to one another and together we can help each other.

In Unity,

Tim Strong, President
CWA Local 4900

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