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Being Mindful

Take care of yourself, and then take care of others.

Over one million people in the U.S attempt to commit suicide each year.

That’s just one alarming fact I learned in reading Michael Garwood’s article on mental health that you will find here.

Depression costs employers $44 billion in lost productivity.

That’s another one. And there are plenty more eye-opening stats in the piece. When Michael, who is Content Director for Residential Systems’ sister publication AV Technology Europe, mentioned in an editorial meeting that he was publishing a business guide to mental health, I knew that I wanted to share it with you. However, the topic goes well beyond any business tips, and is a necessary reminder that many people are suffering, and we need to offer support — both as managers and as humans.

Related: How Are You, Really?

While Michael’s article does a great job of outlining the problem and providing some management tips, it really only scratches the surface of a problem that is not terribly well understood. In Matt Haig’s insightful Reasons to Stay Alive, he paints the problem in the following way:

“The more you research the science of depression, the more you realize it is still more characterized by what we don’t know than what we do. It is 90 percent mystery.”

And I appreciated how he sums up the irony of how little we know:

“[A brain] is worryingly magical, in that it does so much with us still not understanding how or why. It is — like all else — made out of atoms which themselves came into being in stars millions of years ago. Yet more is known about those faraway stars than the processes of our brain, the one item in the whole universe that can think about, well, the whole universe.”

It doesn’t help that people experience depression in different ways, and there is no textbook way of treating it that works for all people. For some, medication works, but not for others. Same with meditation and exercise.

What can we do as managers (and humans)? It is tough to know, but Haig’s book offers some excellent suggestions on what to do or say to someone suffering from depression — as well as striking first-person accounts of his own, continuing bouts with the disease.

It does turn out that one of my favorite things can be helpful: words. As Haig writes:

“[Depression] is simply something that happens to you. And something that can be eased by talking. Words. Comfort. Support. It took me more than a decade to be able to talk openly, properly to everyone, about my experience. I soon discovered the act of talking is in itself a therapy. Where talk exists, so does hope.”

If you are suffering and need someone to talk to, the National Suicide Hotline is available 24 hours every day at 1-800-273-8255. If you are not comfortable speaking, there is a chat version available at or you can text HOME to 741741 and text with a trained counselor from the Crisis Text Line.

Please talk if you need to, and listen when people speak.

Take care of yourself, and then take care of others.