Mental health conditions are far more common than many of us think, mostly because people are scared to talk about them. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five U.S. adults experience mental illness each year.
As we approach the end of Mental Health Awareness Month, I took some time to reflect on my own mental state, which was a complete roller coaster this month. As someone with a history of mental illnesses (anxiety, eating disorders and PTSD), I’m constantly looking for ways to improve my outlook on the most challenging situations.
After a week-long Disney World vacation, my family returned with an unfortunate souvenir: COVID. My main COVID symptoms were headache, fatigue, nausea and anxiety. How on earth was I going to tackle my backlogged inbox and jam-packed calendar with a sick child (and sick self) for 10 days?
When I told the news to our CFO, Mark Miller, he responded with, “If there is anything we can do to help, let us know.” And he reminded me that there may be a time when I look back and weirdly miss this time spent together with my son.
On day four of quarantine, I posted a picture of my son in his pajamas to the Walker Parents Employee Resource Group (ERG) Slack channel. Our Chief People Officer, Allison Ward, commented with “Hang in there,” and our CEO, Mike Santoro, mentioned that 100-piece puzzles from Amazon killed lots of quarantine time. Their responses demonstrated the importance of the Walker Parents ERG as a safe space to seek advice, share milestones or simply vent — and it’s just one more way our agency supports our employees’ mental health.
As Allison said in a recent blog post, Walker Sands sees you as a person and understands that your job with us is only one facet of who you are. Unexpected things happen, and Walker Sands is constantly mindful of the mental health implications that go along with life events. That’s why we’ve put policies in place to help, including offering unlimited sick time that can be used for mental wellness and an Employee Assistance Program that offers mental health resources to our people.
Walker Sands also has four other ERGs that serve as dedicated safe spaces: Walker Disability (Mental + Physical), Walker People of Color (POC), Walker Pride and Walker Women.
Like other families, we experienced long nights and high fevers during our recent encounter with COVID. But my anxiety was kept at bay knowing that I was part of a team and an agency that supports my mental health and has my back as I navigate all of life’s challenges.
If you’re interested in joining the team, check out the careers page.