When I was younger, so much younger than today
I never needed anybody's help in any way
But now these days are gone, I'm not so self assured
Now I find I've changed my mind and opened up the doors

-Lennon-McCartney, Help
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Gracious reader,

Some people won't get help for mental illness and/or substance abuse. 

Even speaking about these conditions can feel -- and be -- risky.  Yet so many of us experience their effects in our lives.  Personally, or in relationships with our loved ones.

At work, when people don't get help for debilitating symptoms, it can affect relationships and careers -- it can also be perceived as "under-performance."

It's not an easy topic.  In fact, I'm even a bit afraid to write about it here.  Maybe I'll offend someone.  I hope not.

If you're thinking about harming yourself, or are worried about someone else, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is online and at 1-800-273-8255.

Tens of thousands of AA and NA meetings are happening, worldwide, right at this very moment.  There is probably a meeting starting soon near you

Getting help, when you need it, is critical.  You are worth it.
Work First Responders
  • "Some companies offer employee assistance programs (EAPs), which offer mental health services to employees. Usually, the company simply provides the service but doesn't receive information about how each employee uses it. However, if you have any questions about privacy and your organization's EAP, talk to a human resources representative for more details..." per the American Psychological Association.  Whether you need assistance for yourself, or information for a colleague, a good EAP can be useful.  If you don't have an EAP talk with your doctor.
  • I've been reading about mental health first aid.  "The first such program was created by a nurse and professor in Australia in 2001, and other programs have emerged since then. A typical course shows employees how to recognize the signs of a problem and gives them the tools and vocabulary to help, " says William Stadler in an opinion piece at the Society of Human Resources Management, Why More Employers Should Provide 'Mental Health First Aid'.

    I have not seen this in action first-hand.  So I wouldn't be quick to implement a training for my team without quite a bit of further study.  And, I'd be a committed supporter of "further study."
It's A Terrible Mixer
  • "In 2012, more than one in five (22%) adult New Yorkers reported experiencing at least one of the following harms in the past six months due to someone else’s drinking:  being insulted or humiliated ...getting in a serious argument...being pushed, hit or assaulted...and experiencing unwanted sexual advances..."  Harm from Other People’s Drinking in New York City, via the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
One Size Fits One
  • If you're in a position to influence your workplace's EAP choice, advocate for diversity in your partner organization.

    "Another barrier is the lack of mental health professionals of color. Being able to get support from someone who looks like you can make the process easier and you don’t feel like you have to code switch in therapy."  The Feministing Five: Mental Health Activist Dior Vargas.

  • Meditation is not the cure for all ills.  Can Meditation Help You with Depression?  Spoiler alert:  maybe not.  Talk with your therapist.

    Pro-tip:  meditation instruction you might find at the office, well, um, YMMV.

  • "The direct question would have been: 'I see on your resume you’ve been in the military, and I think all soldiers have PTSD from war. Can you work here and do your job?'"  Not all veterans have PTSD, writes Adam Freed, a doctoral student in psychology who is a veteran.  

    (Also, though direct, this would not be an appropriate question in almost all job interviews.  But I digress.)
Also, if you're uncomfortable talking about your addiction or mental illness, then don't!  It's your business.

Your first priority is to find balance for yourself.  You are worth it.

If anyone at work is asking you to "share about what's been going on with you," or "be an example for others," you would be justified telling them to step off.  It is not fair, and it's wrong. 

And if they persist, someone in HR, or one of your managers, should back you up.


Anne Libby

P.S.   How to Have a Job #33, was about career transitions:  Your Big Fat Late-Early Career CrisisHere's a link.
Do you lead a team?
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