Five Ways To Transform Mental Health Awareness Month Into Accountability For The Entire Year.

Updated: Aug 1

We are overdue.

Bhavik Shah | Principal, Mind Share Partners

This article was originally published on Linkedin Pulse.

Mental health in the workplace
Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash

Awareness months have gained popularity in educating the masses on very important subject matters. The month of May is no different—ranging from Mental Health Awareness, AAPI Heritage, and ALS awareness to name a few. Specifically for mental health awareness, many organizations wait until May to fulfill their yearly quota, declaring they have done their part to create a workplace that fosters support for their employees.

As a collective society, the last two years have been the most challenging period many of us have experienced in our lifetimes. (Covid-19 pandemic, surge of hate crimes, police brutality, and political wars to name a few) The impact has inevitably been woven into our professional lives, affecting how we show up at work and the desperate desire to feel psychologically safe. While we have seen organizations make a shift in mental health awareness, solely depending on campaigns such as “mental health is not mental illness” or “it’s okay to not be okay”, creates a very dangerous illusion of mitigating workplace stressors. Employees are seeing right through this mirage and are increasingly leaving their jobs to preserve their mental health.

Over-indexing on awareness months and failing to create a mentally healthy culture for the rest of the year is pure negligence. In order to counteract this, we must re-evaluate the way many of us have been socialized to work. Historically, the “ideal worker” mentality has proven to be incredibly harmful and oppressive towards specific communities. The realities of our livelihoods, households, and everyday micro experiences are very different in 2022, yet we still adhere to working conditions that were created dating as far back as the Industrial Revolution.

Working parents could care less about office ping pong, and would like to spend more time looking after their children. Marginalized communities are petrified in taking public transport due to the horrific rise in hate crimes, surging to the highest level in the US in 12 years. Hollow slogans for wellness programs almost directly negate creditability for that employee whose work environment remains toxic. There have been countless other data points and research published on how the pandemic has substantially altered our daily circumstances - bringing challenges to the forefront. Yet organizations are continuing to take a tepid approach to alter working conditions. It’s time to walk the walk once and for all.