You don’t have to look too far or deep to notice how mental health issues have mushroomed in recent years.  Just turn on the evening news and it is no surprise anymore to learn of a tragic event caused by someone with a mental health problem.  I personally cannot help but notice an increasing population of homeless people who suffer from mental illness, not to mention the return home of our military suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  It is not that this is a new problem (Boston Globe), but more noticeable due to more people not having health insurance, closure of mental health facilities over the years, unemployment, too many budget cuts for treatment and just not enough care providers.
Julie, in her 40s, was a bundle of sunshine and energy as she entered my car. One could not help but notice her beaming smile.  I picked her up from one of the many biotech companies in the area. Julie just finished a training session she led and was heading to the airport. She was here from Utah where she started a thriving training business that focuses on helping companies learn how to deal with mental health issues within the work force.  I thought this was a unique and much needed focus, as many of the violent incidents that happen today are caused by people with mental health issues. The never ending tragic school and office shootings put this condition into light!
Overcoming her Own Issues
Julie herself is well aware of mental health issues as she has had to deal with her own for years.  She was raped as a young woman, had to deal with a family member’s suicide as well as her own deep depression and suicidal feelings.  Her company, in a way, has helped Julie deal with her own trauma and resulted in gaining a real mental toughness!
Proactive Solution?
I really appreciate the work Julie is doing and love how she powered through her own mental health pain to now helps others with this once-hidden issue. We discussed a good starting point might be to place a counselor/life coach within a school or company. This type of role would make it easier to identify any problematic people within the work force and school populations.  The focus would be on identifying people who might be troubled and feeling frustrated. Once identified, the in-house life coach could keep an eye on the individual in question, watch their social media postings for any warning signs and also offer “talking” sessions to try and stay connected. They could bring in added resources as needed and attempt to work out some solutions.  

When it comes to dealing with mental illness, people like Julie are truly making a difference… Being proactive rather then reactive is the right approach, don’t you agree?


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