September is Suicide Prevention Month and with rates of suicide rising after the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis that followed, the importance of mental health is not an issue to be ignored. According to the CDC, suicide rates rose from 48,183 total deaths to 49,449—an increase of approximately 2.6% from 2021 to 2022.
While this is a nationwide crisis, this is also a topic that hits home; within our small team at Market Street Talent, two of us have been directly impacted by the suicide of an immediate family member. I lost my father to suicide at the age of thirteen which has since had me actively thinking about ways to integrate self-care and empathy for others on both an individual and professional level.
Following the loss of my dad, I made a concerted effort to leave most interactions on a positive note: sandwiching feedback, or giving a compliment, smile, or joke for someone to walk away with. Over time, those habits became engrained in me and helped me professionally. Many times, I would hear from someone I met at a networking event months later asking to work with me and my company, or my colleagues would attend an event where someone would mention remembering their interaction with me in a positive light. I’ve built strong foundational relationships with my coworkers through consistent check-ins, and while these connections help my own mental health, my colleagues know that there is at least one member of the team they can trust and talk to if they need support.
According to an article from Gettysburg College, “…the average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime. It’s safe to say your job can make a huge impact on your quality of life.” This is an overwhelming number, even if you love what you do. As recruiters, we play a hand in placing people where they will spend a large amount of those hours. This is no small task, and at Market Street Talent, we pride ourselves on finding a “good fit” by paying close attention to factors such as company culture and a candidate’s goals and skills. We match candidates and companies who we are confident have similar motivations and objectives. This is important because people tend to be happy in their roles and stay longer because of this foundation. By building strong relationships with our candidates right off the bat, they are more likely to communicate freely and maintain working relationships with us as they grow in their career—many times at the same company in which we placed them.
There are steps individuals can take to foster a positive environment both at home and at work, walking through each day in a way that contributes to our overall contentment. In your personal life, it can look like making room for self-care. In a professional setting, this could look like a smile in the hallway or an act of kindness throughout the day, consistent praise—even for small accomplishments, and reaching out in a remote working environment to limit isolation. However, companies can take some of that weight off individuals by employing strategies woven into the fabric of their culture that promote healthy minds at work.
Market Street Talent does this well. We have practices in place that encourage work/life balance such as unlimited PTO, a self-care workbook, Monday team check-ins, an outcomes-based approach to management, and an overall culture of balance. On a smaller scale, we all chip in to congratulate each other for accomplishments and we take time to share kind words for life events like birthdays, weddings, and work anniversaries. We even have a Kudos program that encourages us to call out the positive work we see our teammates doing. These practices are easy examples that companies as a whole can adopt to encourage a positive, balanced environment for their employees who have a significant stake in the success of the company.
In conclusion, mental health and suicide is a prevalent issue impacting our society. This Suicide Prevention Month, I encourage you to think about how you can practice self-care, but also create habits around empathy both in and out of the workplace.
Not sure where to start? Some of our team members have attended mental health trainings from the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, which could be helpful in getting the conversation going.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of self-harm or suicide, call 988 to speak with someone today.
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