Today, I heard about an interaction between two employees in our office that made me think about how simple actions can make a difference.
“Mia” asked “Robert” how it was going as they passed in the hall. His glib ‘honestly just trying to make it through’ struck her, so after finishing with her colleagues she circled back to check in on how Robert was really doing. She then took that a step further, offered a supportive ear and proposed a lunchtime walk break to check in. Fortunately, in this case Robert wasn’t facing anything dire and was putting unnecessary added stress upon himself – but he felt better after talking about it.
We don’t have to look far, however, to find harsh statistics surrounding the true state of mental well-being across North America, and we know it’s declined even further over the past few years.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in the U.S. reports that one in five adults experience mental illness each year, and one in six youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year. Similarly in Canada, in a given year 6.7 million Canadians – or one in five people – experience mental illness, and by age 40, that number increases to one in two.
When it comes to our youth, according to Youth Mental Health Canada (YMHC), there are approximately 1.2 million children and young people affected by mental illness in Canada alone, and around 20% of young people will develop a mental illness before they turn 25. However, less than 20% of them receive the right treatment. That’s staggering.
At NOVA Chemicals, we believe that positive mental health is essential for our overall well-being. I’m proud of the resources we make available to our employees supporting their total well-being, and hope our people take advantage of them all. We know, however, that not everyone has ready access to the resources they need.
That’s why this year, we’ve chosen mental health as our focus on #GivingTuesday, and are donating almost US$500,000 toward a series of agencies providing mental health supports to youth and adults in the regions where we work, live and play. Having the right resources available in the moment that you need them has never been more important, and we at NOVA want to be sure crucial programs remain strong and sustainable, available to continue their work providing vital, life-saving care – and hope – for our neighbours.
I invite you to follow us on social media over the next few weeks as we shine a light on each of the recipient organizations and the tremendous work they are doing every day.
There’s no question the decline in society’s mental well-being impacts us all. My hope for each of us – from friends, family and colleagues to neighbours and strangers across our communities alike, young and more seasoned and everywhere in between – is that when we need help, there’s a resource there to support us.
We can all play a role. It doesn’t have to be complicated, and can start with simply reaching out to those around us. Think like Mia did. She doesn’t have any particular expertise and she and Robert are work acquaintances – not teammates nor even on a project together. It doesn’t matter. She paid attention, reached out, and showed kindness. One small action can make a difference.