If you’ve ever been asked what industry you work in, you’ve likely responded with ‘Financial Services’ or some such variation. And although not inaccurate, it doesn’t convey the entire picture. At the risk of sounding clichéd, the industry credit unions truly operate in is the ‘People Business’. Ultimately, credit unions exist to make people’s lives better.
It’s important to keep this perspective in mind when employees or colleagues may be reeling from unexpected situations or news, such as the recent passings of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. In both cases, it’s understood each individual experienced mental illness, a fact that surprised many. And while we are still trying to make sense of these confronting events, it also serves as a reminder to check in with ourselves and ask: are we doing enough to the support the mental health of our own employees or colleagues? As these recent tragedies show, mental illness does not discriminate, and it’s impact can be extremely detrimental or deadly.
In light of this, the following is presented to encourage thinking about whether your organization is taking the right steps to support its employees’ mental health. These recommendations are by no means exhaustive, nor are they provided as medical advice. Rather, they are offered as an initial platform to consider how to do more to truly meet the purpose of making people’s lives better.
Make A Commitment
Sometimes it’s all too easy to gloss over an issue when the subject matter is heavy or doesn’t have an immediate impact on your life. So making a firm commitment to actively pay attention to mental illness and the health of your employees is a great initial step.
The commitment doesn’t have to be a big, open declaration; simply making a personal resolution and having a quiet word with your employees may be all that’s needed to propel your efforts. Of course, once you’ve made that commitment, you need to back it up with action. Which means it’s time to get learning.
Mental illness is complex, which is why it’s important to understand its various facets. Mental Health America is a good resource to get the facts as well as gain guidance on how to navigate the issues.
Education, however, is never limited to just facts. As anyone who works with a credit union knows, practicing empathy and understanding individual experiences is essential to doing the best job possible. The Mighty is a valuable resource for this very purpose, allowing individuals the opportunity to share their own stories of mental illness, while also enabling readers to gain unique insights into these experiences.
Get The Right Support Tools
Finally, to support your employees or colleagues, you need to be prepared to help. Yet not knowing how to help can often be the biggest barrier to doing so. So if you find yourself unsure on how to proceed, turning to the right organizations to empower your support is pivotal.
The Center for Workplace Mental Health has thorough advice and tools tailored to workplace mental health awareness, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has extensive resources relating specifically to depression in the workplace. Both have a wealth of information and detailed recommendations on how to effectively create a workplace conducive to positive mental health.
As we’ve sadly and increasingly come to realize, mental illness is a serious issue that can have drastic consequences. If credit unions are truly committed to the betterment of people’s lives, then they need to be aware of its impact and commit to prioritizing their employees’ and colleagues’ mental health. Not only to make a healthier, happier and more productive workplace, but so that they can truly live up to the values that all credit unions are built upon.