| October 19, 2021
Depression, anxiety and all issues related to mental health are too often ignored in the workplace.
Having lost two family members to suicide — my grandfather and my uncle — this topic is particularly close to my heart. I imagine that’s true for some of you, too.
In fact, as I write these words, it is the ninth anniversary of my uncle’s suicide. Over time and upon reflection of the circumstances surrounding his death, I’ve come to understand more about the importance of mental health, especially in relation to the workplace.
Given the pandemic’s business pressure, the uncertainty that world events yield and recent conversations I’ve had with print service providers and suppliers, I believe mental health is a topic an organization must consider to remain competitive.
Business Is Tough
There is a famous quote from Sean Parker (most notable for cofounding Napster and serving as Facebook’s first president):
“Being a founder is like chewing glass. And eventually, you start to like the taste of your own blood.”
As a company founder myself, this quote resonates. Running a business is not easy, but paradoxically, it often appears that many of us become so ingrained in our businesses that it eventually seems as if we come to enjoy and lean into the pain, anxiety and stress.
This does not mean that we should dismiss the residual effects of accrued stress. When ignored, the results damage health, relationships and even our time on earth.
Mental Health Is a Bottom Line Issue
Mental health isn’t isolated to company owners and founders. As a result of the pandemic, 62% of those surveyed in the recent Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report state they’ve taken on more work and responsibility during the pandemic.
What’s concerning is that 43% feel that their employer is not doing enough regarding taking employee burnout seriously and actively taking steps to prevent it. Among those who feel that their employer isn’t addressing burnout, 25% have already quit or will quit their job in the next six months.
For those in the competitive and pressure-laden print industry, I urge you to consider both your and your staff’s mental health. Even if you feel fine, it doesn’t mean everyone else does.
Last week, I was discussing this topic with a client. He's part of a successful commercial print company and someone I’ve come to enjoy spending time with as a friend. He's an innovator, highly respected by his peers and someone I admire. However, his view on matters of mental health in the workplace stands in contrast to mine. The antidote to him is, “Buckle up, stop crying and let's move on.”
Providing for mental health isn’t something he sees as a workplace concern. And while I disagree, I can see his perspective. I share it because some reading this also may agree with him.
If you’re in the “buckle up and move on” camp, then perhaps an appeal to your business sense may give you a new view on this issue. Because our businesses are driven by the people we employ, acknowledging mental health impacts our ability to remain competitive, which in turn impacts our ability to generate profitable revenue.
My Hope For You
Some of you reading this are in the thick of it right now. You’re feeling stressed, anxious or down about your current situation. My encouragement is to reach out and talk to someone.
I also encourage you to feel more comfortable talking about these issues with others. What I’ve found is that many in high-stress professions wrestle with mental health. Ask others how they’re doing and invest in relationships with other professionals outside your workplace. You may find you have many things in common and may find an outlet for processing your feelings. At the very least, you may realize you’re not alone. That in itself can bring some respite.
It’s also possible to develop thicker skin over time. Years of work in your industry may give you calluses, making it easier to handle new events as they come your way. You gain perspective. You learn over time that there’s a spectrum of challenges that can happen. Once you've experienced a few different pain levels, they don't hurt as much when they happen again.
Lean Into the Discomfort
I started this article with the Sean Parker quote about chewing glass and eventually liking the taste of our own blood. I know it is a grotesque image.
But for some of us, it’s moments of intense difficulty that lead us to a higher calling.
While inwardly we may shake in our boots, it’s life’s difficult moments that compel us to step up and serve our clients, staff and families in entirely new ways.
By leaning into the discomfort, you too might find new insights that make your work and life more rewarding.
If anything I have said resonates with you, I want to assure you that you are not alone. Other print service providers and suppliers feel like you do, and I hope to talk about it more.
Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts. I would love to hear from you.
David is the president and cofounder of MindFire, a two-time Inc500 award-winning software company. Commercial printers, agencies and brands like BMW, Microsoft, Harvard, Facebook and 15,000+ other companies grow their leads and sales with MindFire’s unique marketing platform that finds and engages clients using direct mail, email and social.
Company Culture Commentary Mental Health