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Take the Suck out of Mental Health

by Leanne Companion ASEBP | April 13 2017

I was joking with some friends the other day about inventing a stress vacuum to neatly suck up and dispose of any and all issues that interfere with our lives. Wouldn’t that be nice?! It seems that there are always times in our lives where things start going sideways and our stress feels out of control. During these times, it comforts me to know that Employee and Family Assistance programs, like Homewood Health, are available to me and ASEBP’s many covered members to assist us in dealing with the stressors that life throws our way. What does still surprise me is how many times I hear that people are reluctant to access services because they feel they’re “stressed out” and just need to suck it up (no vacuum pun intended). This disheartens me as I had hoped that our society was well past this stigma and could understand that seeking help is not a sign of weakness but actually one of strength.

Build Up That Mental Strength

Positive mental health isn’t about being problem-free or never having a bad day or experiencing a life change that impacts us negatively. Instead, it’s the ability to cope during tough times. Stress is inevitable and the more skills we learn to build resiliency, the more able we are to battle through tough times and come out on top.

Celebrate in Style

Mental Health Week is May 1-7 this year. Take this perfect opportunity to be loud and proud and encourage everyone to break this stigma by learning, talking and engaging with others on all issues related to mental health. As wellness champions, there are lots of different things we can do to make this happen:

  • Host a lunch and learn information session.
  • Host a Hats On for Mental Health day. Here’s more info on this fun initiative.
  • Arrange a lunchtime recharging activity such as a dance class or walk in the park.
  • Hold a fundraising event with donations going to a local mental health organization.
  • Use this time to inform your employees about the services that your Employee and Family Assistance Program, like Homewood Health, can deliver. Not only do they provide short term counselling there are also services to help find a work-life balance by improving our nutrition, assisting with lifestyle changes, helping with issues such as elder and child care and providing legal and financial advice.

Focus on You First

When explaining the importance of taking care of yourself first, I like to use the analogy of the oxygen mask on an airplane. The safety speech advises you to put on your own mask before assisting others to put on theirs. If you aren’t strong, then you cannot be a support to those who depend on you. As much as we wish it were true, we don’t live in a vacuum and stress sucks—I promise that’s the last vacuum pun! Basically, the moral of the story is that it is okay to ask for help and you’ll be better off for it. Spread the mental health love and support by taking part in Mental Health Week. You and your colleagues will be glad you did!

Leanne Companion

As one of ASEBP’s superhero claims facilitators, Leanne has been a ‘force for good’ in the mental health arena for nearly 15 years. Despite her crippling fear of buffalo and inability to work out the plot to The Matrix (not related), Leanne is the one you want on hand when you need something remembered. We have yet to see how, but we’re certain her gift for remembering Costco scan codes from the early 90s will come in handy one day.