Communication essentials: think of mental as dental

Recently my daughter suffered a concussion in an indoor soccer game.

After three hours of observation at the ER, we were sent home with instructions to come back soon for our follow-up. At the follow-up we met with a nurse practitioner who was terrific. She spent a lot of time communicating what a concussion is, the impact of it and basically anything you want to know about head injuries. But at the end she said something interesting:

“Girls have more concussions because they report them. They think, hey, there’s something wrong here. Boys just try to tough it out.”

That really hit me. Not only from the perspective of a parent (as a dad, am I setting a good example for my daughters when I work through illness, push through pain, etc.?) but also as a business owner and CEO, to both internal and external audiences.

Of course, as is always the case, shortly after I started thinking about this I came upon an article that made me think about it even more:

“Mental health awareness has grown, but bosses still have a long way to go.”

OK, universe. I’m listening.

Do you know where 75% of HR decision-makers think the most mental health awareness at work is needed? The management level.

And since this blog is for leaders who likely are in some type of management seat, I thought you may want to know that.

The company responsible for that survey, Unmind, recommends thinking of “mental like dental,” of course meaning it’s something you do daily – multiple times a day, actually.

I would encourage you to read the article because it is full of smart advice, strong stats and insights from companies who specialize in this.

But beyond the article, I would also encourage you to think about this: You can have the best wellness program there is. You may have paid for the best mental health awareness program. But without you – the leaders of your respective organizations and teams – it goes nowhere.

We need to realize that we’re the missing link in this. We need to model the right behavior, show people what we’ve struggled with and how we’ve dealt with it. We need to be seen using the programs that have been offered to everyone. We need to prioritize them so others do the same.

Your people should always be your greatest advantage. We need to do everything we can to protect and nurture that advantage.

And everything starts with us.