The important issue of promoting mental health awareness and ending the associated stigma and its effects on small businesses, were the two key takeaways during the recent Los Angeles Latino Chamber of Commerce sponsored event held at the Wellnest and Emotional Health Clinic near USC.
The latest health news and statistics show a marked increase in mental health issues among children & adults and there are many contributing factors including the aftermath of the two-year pandemic. For one, the emotional stigma and embarrassment towards mental health, social media, the economy, increasing housing costs, homelessness, and the lack of awareness of available access to mental health services and resources.
Cultural factors and misunderstandings about mental health can play a role too. Discussions about mental health are often taboo subjects in some cultures. Mental and emotional health talks among family members are often avoided due to the stigma, the shame associated with it, and not knowing how to talk about it.
This avoidance can have damaging consequences for small business owners and their families was a key topic discussed at the “Celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month - End the Stigma- Promote Mental Health” Small Business Social Mixer and Program. Small businesses need emotionally reliable employees to function and to get the work accomplished for success and to pay the bills. Many small businesses do not have the resources and are not equipped to handle employees with mental and emotional health issues.
The event was moderated by Christina Sanchez, Vice President of Public Affairs at AltaMed, and featured Charlene Dimas-Peinado, President and CEO of Wellnest. Charlene provided an expansive overview of the mental health problem and provided numerous suggestions on how the small business community can support their staff.
One example is to develop a plan to assist employees and family members dealing with mental health problems. She said giving employees a mental day off, establishing boundaries around work schedules and not emailing employees after work or in the early morning as samples to promote a less stressful work environment and reduce work anxiety.
The emergence of Artificial Intelligence and technology and their role in providing technological solutions for treating mental health were addressed in the “Q and A” segment of the program. The popular meditation and mindfulness programs such as “Calm” and “Headspace” were recommended as useful “tools” in a wellness toolbox for some employees who can utilize the apps as part of a daily wellness routine.
“Calm” and “Headspace” are two mindfulness applications that can be downloaded on phones and are used to alleviate daily work stress and anxiety, two issues that can contribute to mental and emotional health issues.
The event ended with Charlene providing small businesses with mental health information, strategies, and possible solutions to assist their employees experiencing mental and emotional health issues. Due to its relevancy and impact on small businesses, a second mental health and emotional wellness event is planned and a flyer with the details will be sent to members/subscribers of the LA Latino Chamber of Commerce.
Written by Mario Uribe, LA Latino Chamber Director, Communications Strategist