Contributed by Maureen Middleton, Next Concept HR Member.
May is mental health awareness month, which makes me acutely aware of my own disability. What does that mean as an HR professional? How do you balance the concept of “Bringing Your Whole Self to Work,” with the requirements of your position?
First, let’s be real. In today’s day and age, almost everyone has some struggle to a varying degree with mental health, whether personal or with someone in their immediate circle (family or friends).
So what do we do with that?
My recommendation is that we need to know what is in our toolbox and be constantly on a journey of professional development to add new resources to our list of skills.
One of my most valuable skills is my compassion. I will admit, that some of it is innate in my personality and also a result of my upbringing, but I also took a Compassion Cultivation class a few years ago through Stanford Medical School.
The class starts with looking at self-compassion and then moves out to your immediate circles, community and then the world. It is an 8-week class that focuses on the skills of meditation and how we approach suffering and compassion. Self-compassion and self-care is hands down one of the most overlooked and most critical tools in your kit. You can find out more about the class at http://ccare.stanford.edu/.
Additionally, sick time can and should be used for mental health days when needed. Having spent most of my career at organizations where front line staff are doing intense social justice work, this becomes an even more acute issue. This is intrinsically linked with self-care. As HR professionals, we have a responsibility to encourage staff to take time off when you see people are struggling or burned out.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I believe community is one of the most important resources in your toolkit. There has been a lot written about networking and we all know the value when we are in a job search, but I have found my HR tribe to be invaluable when I am struggling or facing tough issues, personally or professionally.
So take a look around and if you are struggling to name professional connections that you can be real with, take action. Sign up for a meet-up, attend a networking event, join NCHRA.
Of course, all of this is just my opinion, feel free to take it or leave it but please, whatever you do, take care of yourself.
About the Author
Maureen Middleton, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is a senior human resources professional with strengths in balancing the goals and strategic objectives of the organization with that of the employees. With vast experience in the private and non-profit sectors, Maureen is a diversity and inclusion champion who is passionate about social justice and creating innovative programs to address inclusion at all levels of a company. She also has experience in full employee life-cycle with expertise in employee relations, and change management. Maureen’s strengths involve building strong relationships across all levels of an organization.