Insights | May 31, 2023

Prioritizing Mental Health Benefits Everyone

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:

  • Wellbeing On-Demand resources like 24/7 telemedicine options, no-cost counseling sessions, discounted access to caregiver support, fitness programs, and financial coaching.
  • Enhanced bereavement leave, including flexibility about time off and getting people funds quickly if they need them, means employees have less to worry about during their most trying times.
  • Company-paid family subscriptions to the Ginger and Headspace apps empower employees and their loved ones to make mental health care part of their routine.
  • An annual fully remote month in August allows our people to work fully remote from anywhere giving more time to enjoy family, friends, and self-care, and less time to the commute.
  • Financial assistance helps employees and their dependents access healthcare not available where they live, so our people don’t have to fear being unable to receive critical treatments.

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. 

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