In light of the recent celebrity tragedies of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, I would like to take a moment to say how deeply sad I am to learn about these deaths. These individuals have had a tremendous impact upon their industries, and the world has profoundly changed from their contributions. 

I was personally surprised to learn about the increase of suicide rates in the United States. NPR reported that suicide rates have increased in nearly every state over the past two decades, and half the states have seen the suicide rate go up more than 30 percent. 

The blaring questions in my mind are, "Why have these rates increased by such an exorbitant amount?" AND "What can be done to reduce these suicide rates?" As I try to better understand the issue of mental health in the United States, I have used a human-centered perspective to answer these questions.

mental health topics

"Why have these rates increased by such an exorbitant amount?"

So many factors may have a contributing stake to mental health that I will not be able to highlight all these topics, however I think social media, personal and professional pressures/stressors, and workplace anxieties are contributing factors. 

What can be done to reduce these factors? 

1. Social media: We all have the FOMO complex from time to time when we scroll through our social media accounts. It's perfectly normal to feel jealous about your friend's epic trip to a far off place, but to internalize the feeling like you are missing out on life is detrimental to your health. Keep in mind that social media posts rarely uncover the low points in someone's life - therefore you are only seeing the high points. Life isn't always a breeze like you see on social media. 

2. Personal Stressors: Expectations within a relationship along with expectations of ourselves (ie: fears, guilt, not making time for ourselves) tend to get in the way of helping us be our best self. Spend time to get to know yourself, and ask these questions: "What helps me thrive?" "What doesn't serve me any more?" Learn to let go of those things that do not serve you, and say 'no' more often without feeling guilty. And, do not hesitate to reach out to friends or family for support; chances are the person/people you reach out to care about your wellbeing. 

3. Professional Stressors: If you find yourself complaining about your job and the toll it takes on your mental health and well being, do something about it. You have a choice. Examine the way you think about your job. What do you enjoy about your role? What would you like to change about your role? Are the things you would like to change, changeable? Perhaps you can focus on the factors of your job that help you thrive. Mindset is key. 

4. Workplace anxieties: I tend to categorize these anxieties as external factors affecting your mental wellbeing. if there are external issues such as an unhealthy workplace environment, take action. Either voice your concerns in a productive manner or choose to exit your role with a personal plan of action. 

Added token of advice: We spend so much of our time at work that workplace wellness initiatives are highly important to improving professional culture and personal psyche. 

For Employers:  

1. Develop a workplace wellness action plan after assessing your employer needs. 

2. Pilot a few initiatives to gauge employee response, and measure the shift that takes place within your workplace. 

3. Download my company culture checklist for more comprehensive steps to take when developing a healthy company culture or workplace wellness plan. 


For Employees:

1. Express your interest in a workplace wellness plan. 

2. Offer formative ideas to lead the process by thinking about initiatives that would make you happier at work. 

3. Encourage your colleagues to speak up and voice their concerns and solutions. 

Motivational Mental Health Quote

Remember, every situation is different, and there are always ways to reach out and get help. The CDC said that people can learn about warning signs of suicide to help anyone at risk. One resource is the website: To reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).