Reflections on the Loss of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade

There are times our nation seems really divided, and then there are times when our shared humanity unites us. The loss this week of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain seems to be one of those moments. No matter who you are, you’ll likely agree that the death of these public figures is tragic. Even as we send our condolences to their families, it’s only natural to wonder if we are doing everything we can to take care of ourselves, our loved ones and the people around us.

As a workplace culture expert, I’m also thinking about what leaders can do to support their team members’ emotional well-being. Since clinical depression is listed as a top workplace problem, I’m reflecting on several questions such as, “what support can companies offer to ensure their teams not only fulfill tasks but are healthy,” and “how do we erase the stigma of mental illness so people feel comfortable speaking up and asking for help.” These questions are worth considering as an estimated 43 million Americans suffer from depression, and left untreated, the disease can cost upwards of 100 billion annually in things such as productivity, absenteeism and coming to work without being fully present.

While this advice is not meant to substitute a therapist’s care, and while I am not a therapist, there are simple things employers and leaders can do to help their team members. First, one of the best gifts we can give our teams is to create a healthy workplace culture; one that is free from toxicity, and one where team members feel safe and supported. When we work in environments that are baked in toxicity, it impacts our health by increasing our stress levels. Earlier this year, I wrote about how to identify and fix toxicity in the workplace.

As a leader, one of the best gifts you can give to your employees is creating a healthy workplace culture.

Next, ensure your company offers quality mental health services, including EAP assistance. If a team member had a broken leg, it would be ludicrous if they didn’t see a doctor. The same is true with our mental and emotional well-being. If a team member needs emotional support, we should ensure there are resources for them to tap into. Stay connected with your people. Regularly ask how they’re doing separate and apart from their job. When people come to work, they bring their whole selves, and the personal and professional are intertwined. So, it’s important to check in with the full person.

Also, be an example of what healthy boundaries and self-care looks like. When you model self-care, you free others to do the same. As leaders, it’s really important that we use our vacation time and really step away from the day to day. This not only benefits us personally, it also empowers and gives our team members new experiences during our absence. One of the ways I take care of myself is by taking extended time off a couple of times a year. During these times, I completely unplug, meaning I don’t take or use computers and I’m not glued to my cell phone. Instead, I connect with my family, recharge my own battery and rest. I find that the time away helps me to be a better parent and wife, a better leader and a better business owner.

“An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly. Unknown

Finally, employers and managers shouldn’t underestimate the importance of a simple act of kindness. Everyone is fighting one battle or another, and kindness goes a long way. While mental health care is far more complex than what can be described in a single LinkedIn post, the point is that there is something each of us can do to help our colleagues and ourselves.

Please also note that if you’re in the U.S., and in need of support, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.


This article was originally published on my LinkedIn. Find it here!

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