The importance of mental health education in the workforce and at home and in society.

golden rule

Remember this adage as well as the other one: “Do unto others as you would have others do to you. Or if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.”

The way we treat people in this world is sickening. Do you remember the old adages mentioned above? Has someone like your parents, grandparents, and other loved ones drill these adages into you? For me, it was my parents. Teaching your child or loved ones about respect is very important. Take a good look at the world we live in. People are mistreated over anything and everything like their: their race, their beliefs, their looks, their bodies, to how we raise our kids and etc. Trolls constantly spewing hatred online towards other people and they do this mocking just to make themselves feel important.

Elvis Presley made it loud and clear in his hit song “Don’t be cruel”. Don’t be cruel to a heart that’s true. So right on the head. Why do people feel the need to be cruel to their fellow man and woman and child? Whatever happened to the “Golden Rule” and a thing called “Respect” by the great Aretha Franklin??? 

This “Golden Rule” education should always start at home. What people need to realize is that everyone is different. We all come from different ethnic backgrounds and we come in all shapes and sizes. Don’t make fun of something that you don’t understand: that’s prejudice. Don’t be like that. People aren’t born to hate. You can debate that last sentence but it’s the truth. You are taught to love, taught to respect others and you are taught to behave as well. This is life lesson 101. If you treat someone like an ass (Excuse my language), then you will be treated like an ass.

I’m a total believer in the “Golden Rule” and I don’t take it lightly when someone breaks this rule: EVERYDAY. It could be another person saying or treating me or someone else that I know in a very unruly manner and as for myself: I will instill the “Golden Rule” inside you until you’re blue in the face. Especially for us mental health sufferers, I refuse to let any non-sufferers mock us sufferers because what they don’t even know or will understand nor bully anyone living with mental illness. Many customers and co-workers over the years have been such bullies towards me. One of the worst comments (this is the condensed version) a district manager said to me was: “You should be at home, not working. You’re not management type. You’re strange.” OK! Hello, may I speak with Human Resources, please? Oh yes, I was verbally harassed by a superior from my old job. I called HR on him and reported him. He didn’t know let alone cared that I suffered from depression. His comment about me being at home was old-fashioned coming from him. In his culture and beliefs, women should be at home taking care of the children and making dinner ready for the master to come home. FYI, I don’t have kids and I’m not married, so why would I stay at home for? My car, my schooling at the time, and my house aren’t going to pay for itself by not working. Imagine the war of words that ensued after this comment was said.

I talked to head of HR and the regional manager and said that he’s very unprofessional and straight up rude. I could’ve walked out of that management job, but I didn’t. Only a quitter, quits. I’m the opposite of that. I’ve had my share of harassment, verbal abuse, and bullying because of my depression. There have been a few (I mean) a few district managers that really know me and adore me as a manager. Some of them would recommend me for a higher position versus others. My current district manager isn’t one of those. The first time he met me, his first impression was so WRONG on so many levels. From the outside, he thought I was just a young inexperienced manager that’s very introverted and doesn’t project the image of a store manager. My previous manager told me this and he noticed that I seemed rude because I don’t smile and didn’t seem friendly. Let’s see, I have depression! That’s tough, right? Are you going to be happy and have a smile painted on your face everyday? NO! When you’re under the gun and stressed because business is so busy, are you going to be peppy? NO! My experience as a manager was more extensive than he guessed.

When we first met, I said: “First off, it’s a pleasure to meet you. However, don’t assume you know me upon your first impression. You probably think I’m no more than 21 when in fact, I’m almost 35. I have a business degree and spent 16 years working in retail and in management. So, I’m qualified, maybe a little overqualified. You think I’m rude and unfriendly. You don’t know me. We just met. How do you know that I’m rude? And most importantly, I suffer from depression. Do you? Do you know what it’s like?”

Imagine the look on his face when he realized that his first impressions were so wrong. He was embarrassed. This is coming from a from a retired soldier in that was in the army. He was had no idea what he had just said behind my back, but at least he righted his wrong with an apology. But the ignorance that occurs is frustrating to the tee. I felt offended in so many ways. Here’s a man that’s never met before ever in his life and he quickly made the wrong assumption of me. I knew that he was a former soldier in the army and I asked him point-blank: “You fought for this country, right. You were stationed to serve and protect us, right? And you never experienced PTSD or depression before or after your service was up?” He didn’t elaborate on that nor answered the question. His face answered my question. However, when I did experience a violent crime a few months back, he was so supportive and sympathetic towards me. He said: “I know how you feel.” Do you? I’m experiencing PTSD again for billionth time and you know how I feel? Yet you want me to just drop my depression at the door and fake it all through my shift?

Mental illness isn’t something that you can just “drop off” like a deposit into the bank or throwing mail into the mailbox. Your depression stays with you wherever you go. Just because you have a great day and you’re laughing your head off, doesn’t mean that the battle is over. God, no!

Education of mental health and respect both go all long way. Programs such as mental health education should be implemented in every establishment. I mean, does every company really need training on the “Golden Rule” and learn how to treat others with respect including clients as well?? We shouldn’t have to, but then again this world isn’t perfect. Starbucks started “Racial Bias” training in May and as an employee, I said: “What took so long to implement this?” There’s so much diversity in this world. Starbucks is one of the most diverse companies that I’ve ever worked for. I have so many colleagues from different backgrounds, with different lives and beliefs, and I respect that. I’m all for diversity. Again, this “Racial Bias” training is still a work in progress, but it’s a major step in the right direction. Most companies don’t do this. One of the worst companies that I see with so many problems are airlines. No one should be kicked off a plane because of his or her race. You can go to YouTube and check out their numerous egregious acts that have occurred within the recent years.

When I read that schools in two states in the US, were starting to add mental health education to their curriculum, again I said: “It’s about time.” This was long overdue. Way too long overdue. However, this education should be implemented in ALL states and in  ALL schools. This same kind of mental health education needs to be implemented to all establishments in the workforce, too. Think of the change that will occur if all schools and all establishments in the world are becoming more educated in this matter. Would the world change? Maybe, maybe not. Would non-sufferers get the message? Again, maybe or maybe not. I’m not God.

But for change to occur in this world, one thing must happen: we all as humans need to learn the word “RESPECT”. Respect for everyone. Respect for their culture, their beliefs. Respect for people living with chronic health conditions. And so on. It isn’t hard to be the bigger person and open up your mind. Start thinking outside of the box instead of coloring inside of the lines. If you opened up your mind and opened your eyes; and really take a good look, then check out the world for the first time with a fresh perspective.  One person can change anything. One person can set the example for change. You have to be willing to be that change by opening up and expand your horizon.




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