One especially pernicious thing about mental illness is that you can’t obviously see it. Doctors can’t diagnose it as they would cancer or diabetes. When my older brother passed away by suicide just over 23 years ago, friends and family members wished we had better understood his illness and how to help him in a meaningful way.
This traumatic experience makes May – Mental Health Awareness Month – especially significant to me. It also informs my role leading the People & Culture function at Link Logistics. The opportunity to support the mental health of Link’s amazing people brings me tremendous joy and fulfillment. While helping people thrive mentally and emotionally does not start and end with the workplace, I do believe companies have an important role to play.
Mental health as a business imperative
Starting at the top with CEO Luke Petherbridge, Link is progressive in its approach to understanding mental health. This isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s good business, too. More than 90 percent of respondents to a 2021 Harvard Business Review survey said a company’s culture should support mental health, and the World Economic Forum has written extensively about how supporting mental health is good for companies as well as their people. Mental health is more of a business imperative than ever since the pandemic hit in 2020.
The needs of Link employees vary, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to mental health. We still have plenty of opportunity to improve, and are dedicated to continually doing so, but a few of the steps I am proud of our firm taking include:
Signs to watch for
Caring for people’s mental health also goes beyond policies and benefits. In the office and at home, it is important to be aware of potential indicators that a colleague, friend or family member may be struggling. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, signs to watch for include:
· Excessive feelings of fear, worry or sadness
· Extreme mood changes, including intense highs
· Avoiding friends and social gatherings
· Changes in eating habits
· Inability to handle daily activities, challenges and stress
Today there is a wealth of similar online resources and real progress made toward destigmatizing mental illness. Speaking openly about mental health and little bit of knowledge and research can go a long way, and even help save someone’s life.
Helping our people helps their people, too
On May 18, I am thrilled to be participating with colleagues from Link and other Blackstone Real Estate companies in the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge, a 3.5-mile run/walk that connects work and wellness. I am looking forward to an evening of fun, camaraderie and healthy exercise with colleagues and people from other companies. As our team traverses the course, my brother will certainly be on my mind.
Participating in events like this to foster community and connection is another way organizations can support their people’s mental health. At Link, wanting our colleagues to thrive is part of our DNA as we work to reimagine what it means to be an industrial real estate firm. We care about one another, but we also remember an important fact: Every coworker is a friend and family member to people who love them dearly and want them to be smiling, happy parts of their lives for a long time to come.