Retirement and rocking chairs are swiftly being replaced with remarriage (post a separation or divorce), frequent trips to the gym, more travel, more socialising, etc. much more than their parents ever indulged in. But while Baby Boomers are seemingly living the life, there is one aspect they tend to struggle with with reference to overall wellness — mental health. Why is normalising ill mental health such an integral cog in the working of today’s society? Because talking about mental health saves lives. You see, only when one has sound mental health, can they really start to flourish. Allow me to expound on that.
Let’s paint a picture, shall we? Imagine a strapping young lad; let’s call him Samar. Samar has taken time off work because of a flu. In the usual three to five days he recovers and resumes work, effortlessly and efficiently. What his family and colleagues see is their dear one just out of the clasp of the pesky flu. What they don’t see is the constant insomnia, suicidal feelings and ideations, and the almost-zero appetite Samar has been battling quietly. Samar is going through, what they call in the medical world, as Clinical Depression.
Sure, Samar is physically fit at the moment, but mentally he’s already planned his suicide. The above painted picture is akin to seeing yourself in several pictures but realising your smile never really reached your eyes. How do we go about changing the narrative? Let’s start by gently yet firmly including mental health as a parameter across different aspects of life. Take, for example, the hiring process in companies, large and small. A good percentage of HR Managers are Baby Boomers and it’s important they start to read between the lines (even more so) of the many resumes they receive and oneon-one interviews they conduct. Does the applicant seem unusually disturbed in how they describe themselves? This may indicate low self-worth.
Today, I have modified my resume to include empathetic, patient, and insightful as strengths. Why? ‘Empathetic’, because that gives me the superpower to put myself in someone else’s shoes, grasp their perspective and then tackle any personal or professional situation that may arise. ‘Patient’, because it allows me to take in all aspects of a situation before lending it my reaction. ‘Insightful’, because that makes clear that I’m not only observant and self-aware, but will also not shy away from using that insight into bettering my colleagues.
If you are a Baby Boomer and have honoured me by reaching the end of this article, allow me to take two more minutes of your time. If you’d like to manifest some changes with regards to the conversation of mental health, let’s start with your own children. Here’s a quick check list:
- Start small Son or daughter just come home from work? Ask them how their day was; did their horrid boss do anything special today to tick them off? How did they tackle that tricky situation at work today? And build from there.
- Leave unhelpful statements at the door The likes of: “It’s all in your head”, or “Anxiety? That’s preposterous; you just need to calm down!”, or “Just snap out of it”. Instead, employ helpful statements such as: “I may not completely understand what you’re going through, but I support you 100 per cent”, or “What can I do to help? Would it be okay if I just sat here with you?”
- Learn about mental health on your own Take time out to do a little research and reading on what someone close to you might be going through. This way, you’re better equipped at understanding the problem from a holistic view and are better able to help them. Plus, it saves them from explaining what they’re going through. It’s really on us to encourage our near and dear ones to not only openly talk about their ill mental health, but also seek timely help. Hey, Baby Boomers, let’s do this together.