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VOLUME 21 | ISSUE 4
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Shifting to a Growth Mindset
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Earlier this year we launched a Keynote Speaker Series featuring today’s top thought leaders across different categories—Mental Health & Wellness; Marketing, Innovation & Disruption; and Equality, Diversity & Inclusion. We’ve been chatting with a few of them on the themes of our magazine. For this issue we spoke with Mark Henick, Mental Health Advocate & Strategist.
WHAT CHANGES WHEN EMPLOYERS RECOGNIZE MENTAL HEALTH?
We have some incredible people, companies, employers and individuals who are way out front in terms of advancing mental health issues in the workplace. The pandemic really supercharged this change of adopting a growth mindset when it comes to psychological health and safety in the workplace. It showed people at all levels what it’s like to feel isolated and lonely, which creates a shared struggle and common bond. If everyone knows that mental health is important except for the CEO, nothing’s going to change—you need the ground level push including top-level leadership. Employees have now seen the CEO at their kitchen table, with their cat, and it’s torn down those barriers that kept executives at arm’s length from the struggles their employees were facing. It’s made it personal in an effective way.
WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE TROUBLE SPEAKING UP ABOUT THEIR MENTAL HEALTH?
The mental health conversation was becoming more prominent pre pandemic. But then along comes Covid and it just shoves mental health right onto center stage. It’s shifted the conversation—employers have realized that mental health services are essential parts of their business, not only because it’s the right thing to do but because it’s good for business and the case is pretty conclusive. This has really increased demand and further articulated the range of mental health services that are available. The virtual health space in particular—those trends will continue as more commercialization comes to the mental health space. We’ll need to diligently pay attention to quality as that happens. The next wave in the mental health space is paying attention to quality among the types of services people need and matching the level of help with the level of expertise or the approach of the professional. It’s been the source of most of our systemic issues where we’re broadly saying the mentally ill in the singular as though everybody with any of the thousands of iterations of mental illness are the exact same. There are a range of mental healthcare providers with varying approaches to help very different issues. Mental health providers need to better clarify what they do, and employers and individuals need to appreciate that. It’s going to take a while to help educate people, but I think we’re getting there.
WITH ONTARIO GRADUALLY OPENING UP, THERE MIGHT BE FEAR AROUND GOING BACK TO WORK—HOW SHOULD PEOPLE DEAL WITH THAT?
Speaking up, especially when it’s hard, is a radical act of self-love. Like anything else that you don’t yet know how to do, if it’s hard, it means you need to do it more. I’ve been speaking about mental health for 20 years, and there are still things that make me super uncomfortable to talk about. When I feel that discomfort, I’ve trained myself to go toward it instead of running away from it. That’s really a fundamental shift to a growth mindset.
HAVE YOU SEEN MANY CHANGES WITHIN THE MENTAL HEALTH COMMUNITY BECAUSE OF THE PANDEMIC?
The idea of re-entry anxiety has gotten quite a bit of press recently. There’s a real benefit, at least here in Toronto where I’m located, of moving into stage three and restrictions loosening up over the summer while cases are generally lower, to get out and do things. We’re going to have to watch closely this fall when kids go back to school and people return to the office. People may start experiencing some of that re-entry anxiety of shaking up their whole world again. We all need to be supportive in a mindful and conscious way.
Anything to end with?
As much of an advocate as I am for reforming systems, both in terms of public and private healthcare systems as well as within companies, I really think everything we do in the mental health space needs to come back to stories of recovery and resilience. At the end of the day, we need to remind ourselves that far more people recover from these issues than don’t. In fact, recovery from the vast majority of mental health problems and illnesses is not only possible, it’s expected, and it’s more likely to happen when people get the help they need. We have many effective treatments for the vast majority of struggles people are facing. So when we tell stories of people who have overcome and recovered, that’s what reminds people they can do it too. It’s going to look different for them, sure, but they can do it too.
VOLUME 21 | ISSUE 4
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