For Naomi Judd

 In 2022, Tip of the Week

It has been just over a week since Naomi Judd, an award-winning, much-acclaimed, and loved country singer, part of the duo The Judds, died from mental illness. She made no secret of her struggles with depression, writing a book about it, “River of Time.” In the end, her pain was too much for her to bear, and she took her own life. This safety tip is for Naomi.

May is National Mental Health Awareness month, which seems mis-named because we don’t talk about the importance of our mental health, but of the seriousness of unhealthy and sometimes fatal diseases that can affect us not only mentally but physically. One of the unhealthiest aspects of mental illness is that we rarely talk about it, as if it is not a problem, not important, or even worse, an embarrassment. SCM wants to change that. We are starting today by looking at the impact it can have.

Impact in the Workplace

Mental health can affect us professionally. In a recent advertisement for a webinar on the subject, the National Safety Council had this to say, “Mental health issues across a workforce come with significant impact. Workplaces bear substantial costs stemming from absenteeism, increased health care expenses and turnover, and lost productivity. Nearly a third of U.S. employers (31%) say the strain on employee mental health is having a severe financial effect on their company – up from 21% in March 2020. Burnout and disengaged employees can cost organizations between $450 billion and $550 billion annually.” (To learn more or register for the. webinar, go here: https://nsc-org.zoom.us/webinar/register/7516492578414/WN_19ASnyflQh2Epzd3b1Jz2w

Impact to Our Youth

Last Monday, May 2, 2022, Mental Health America released an analysis of 5.4 million mental health screenings that took place on their website in 2021. A remarkable 45% of the screenings were made by people 11 to 17 years old, which was an increase of 16%. Maddy Reinert, Senior Director of Population Health, said “Of course, we know that COVID-19 has really affected mental health, not only making us worry about our health and the health of our loved ones but also drastically changing our social environments. About 70% of our 11-to-17-year-olds reported that loneliness or social isolation was contributing to their mental health problems.” To read the full article, follow this link: https://www.yahoo.com/news/data-youth-mental-health-not-192849102.html

Impact to Our Military Veterans

The numbers of veterans committing suicide are more than 6,000 per year, which is about 1.5 times higher than non-veterans. Compare those numbers to the 4,700-plus occupationally related deaths in the US in 2020. An article published on PubMed by the National Institutes of Health cites post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), depression, and substance use disorders as the leading issues to veterans. You can read the article here: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34283458/

What can we do?

Talk about it. Acknowledge that there are mentally unhealthy people. Naomi would not mind if you used her as an example. You can start a conversation with “Isn’t it sad what happened to Naomi Judd? I know others who suffer from mental illness. Do you?” or anything similar. Don’t sweep mental unhealth under the carpet. Talking about it will help to normalize it and allow those suffering to know they are not alone.

If you have a friend, relative, or coworker who appears to be struggling, talk to them. Let them know you see that something is not right and that you are available to listen. They may not respond immediately, but gently, kindly, keep at it. If they feel someone cares, they may talk about it. Healthline.org has some good suggestions on helping someone with depression here: https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-help-a-depressed-friend#how-to-help

If you are struggling with mental unhealthiness, there are many options that can help you. Reach out to your healthcare provider. If you are not comfortable doing that, or need help immediately, you have options. Some resources are as follows:

  • The national mental health crisis phone number is 800-273-8255 (TALK)
  • Text MHA to 741741 to interact with a trained crisis counselor
  • Call 9-1-1 go to the nearest hospital emergency room
  • More options are available on the Mental Health Alliance website at https://mhanational.org/im-looking-mental-health-help-myself.

Do it for Naomi. Do it for Robin Williams (comedian, actor), Kate Spade (fashion designer), Junior Seau (pro-football player), Brad Delp (guitarist for rock group Boston), Cheslie Kryst (model, Miss USA 2019), and the thousands of others whose pain was too great to continue living.

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