I have worked in the field of mental health for the past two decades, and regrettably, some things have not changed. In 2022, I must say that the amount of talk about mental health is still disproportionate to the amount of meaningful action that supports the recovery of individuals and changes their lives.
Recently, I’ve been helping the MHI team conduct interviews with prospective candidates for the peer support telephone service we will launch for a population of slightly more than one million people. During the interview, we asked individuals about their lived experience and how they believe this could help them provide better support to others.
It is uplifting to hear how people recovered and intend to use their lived experience to help others, as well as their desire to ensure that no one feels alone and without hope. Every one of those conversations leaves me feeling so fortunate.
It is truly remarkable to see what results from the human struggle. Based on my own experience and what I have observed over the past 22 years, I can conclude that those who lean forward the most also appear to have experienced the most hardship. Once they have recovered, they can recognize how difficult the struggle was, which is likely the impetus for their desire to help. I hang up the phone at the end of an hour of interviewing and think, “Wow, there are a lot of great people out there who are willing to step up and be there for others.”
We’ve been talking about mental health for a long time, and now it’s time to walk the walk as we recover from the pandemic and return to a world where the pre-pandemic landscape of workplace mental health was not all that great statistically.
I am focused on developing, if you will, a formula that will attempt to engage and crowdsource as many people as possible, including those who may have less lived experience but are still willing to spare a few moments now and then to support a fellow human.
What would the landscape be like if we could utilize more and more of this human capacity to support people rather than rely solely on those who have experienced the most traumatic experiences?
As a society and a people, we must reconsider how we can capitalize on what we likely do in our daily lives with our loved ones. How can these skills of caring for a child, a mother, a sister, and an uncle be transmitted throughout our society and especially to the workplace?
As humans, we have the ability to ensure that no one is left behind, to help them know they are not alone. To connect with someone who is struggling in a way that does not attempt to solve or assume responsibility for their problem but rather fosters empathy in a conversation by reaching deep within ourselves to recall times when we struggled.
We all have the power to change someone’s life. All we need to do is find the courage to relate and lean forward.