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Loose Lips Sink (Work Relation)ships: Handling Gossip in the Workplace

Humans are by their very nature, social creatures. It’s one of the foundational reasons why we’ve thrived as a species. Through forming relationships and working together, we’ve accomplished great things. Unfortunately, this article is going to focus on a regrettable by-product of our innate social drive: workplace gossip.

Over a lifetime, the average person spends approximately 90,000 hours at work. Put another way: one-third of your adult life will be spent in a work environment. No matter which way you cut it, a significant portion of your time will be spent in the workplace, surrounded by other people doing the same. In spending so much time with our colleagues, we become interested in their lives and we develop social bonds that can exceed a purely productivity-focused relationship. That’s not necessarily a bad thing either – a recent meta-analysis shows that friends work together better than a group of acquaintances.

But as alluded to above, gossip is ultimately the by-product of these social connections – you might call it a fact of life. In fact, 90% of conversations qualify as gossip and nearly 15% of all work email can be categorized as gossip too. Another stat: on average, we gossip for about 52 minutes each day. As Alicia Bassuk and Claire Lew qualify it in Harvard Business Review, gossip is “casual and unconstrained conversation, about absent third parties, regarding information or events that cannot be confirmed as being true”.

When Gossip Gets Toxic

When do we need to start worrying about gossip in the workplace? The answer: when it’s “essentially, a form of attack”. Gossip that maligns individuals, can hurt their careers, personal relationships and mental health. In fact, it can even lead to physical symptoms, like panic attacks, self-harm and more. Think of it this way in relation to the HBR definition provided above: if it meets all those criteria and it is negatively focused on an individual or group of individuals, your gossip is toxic and has no place in your workplace. Ultimately, toxic gossip is a form of bullying or verbal harassment and in some jurisdictions, could violate labour rules. Some other negative consequences of workplace gossip:

  • Erosion of trust and morale.
  • Lost productivity and wasted time.
  • Increased anxiety among employees as rumors circulate without clear information as to what is and isn’t fact.
  • Divisiveness among employees as people take sides.
  • Hurt feelings and reputations.
  • Attrition due to good employees leaving the company because of an unhealthy work environment.

If you must deal with or encounter gossip in the workplace, here are some tips to help fix it:

  1. The Buck Stops Here: One of the easiest ways to stop yourself from becoming a part of the toxic gossip cycle is to refuse to be part of it. As Joseph Grenny notes, gossipers are rewarded when others listen to them – it validates what they’re doing. If someone is sharing something toxic that puts another colleague in the crosshairs, tell them that you’re not taking part in this conversation or just walk away. If you can’t avoid the contagion, refuse to spread it further – you’ll be able to eliminate yourself from the cycle and ultimately, limit its spread.
  2. Take a Sad Song and Make it Better: Toxic gossip can negatively alter perceptions of certain colleagues. The good news is, it could also serve to positively address them as well. If you’re treated with a negative take, you can rebut it and respond with a positive perspective on the target – think of it as your own “positive gossip”, which can even have “self-improvement value” for gossip participants, so a win-win, all-around!
  • Report it: This is something that most of us are reluctant to do – nobody likes being a “snitch”, except when it could help us. But the fact of the matter is, in a hierarchal organization like a workplace, sometimes our powers are limited – particularly if the gossiper is our senior. If you’re worried about becoming a target because you’re trying to help someone else out, don’t worry chances are, workplace gossip is against official workplace policy. Generally, your best bet is your Human Resources department, who in addition to having dealt with situations like this before, have a vested interest in maintaining a healthy workplace environment that operates smoothly,  productively and without risk of workplace harassment claims.

Gossip is human nature. Toxic gossip doesn’t have to be – there are many options to address it in the workplace and to shut it down. And if you feel like you have nowhere to turn, check out your company’s therapeutic and mental health resources to receive tailored advice for your situation – there’s always an answer.


Some Tips to Treat Yourself on July 24th International Self-Care Day

Despite the anticipation of summer with its lure of warm, lazy days, for many of us, it rarely works out that way. That sunshine can mean more social obligations with friends, a need to program and supervise a full day of activities for children home while school’s out and an end to the ready excuse of putting off house repairs until the weather permits.

And then soon enough, it’s the other side of Labor Day and you’re wondering where it all went and why you’re feeling more run down than you were heading into what you thought was going to be your summer.

Luckily, back in 2011, the International Self Care Foundation (ISCF) established International Self-Care Day to remind you, every July 24th, to make sure you’re putting the importance of your health first.  

  
According to the ISF, there are 7 pillars of self-care – we’ve shared them below with some insights that can help you make this self-care day  Many of these are topics that we’ve covered in-depth in previous dispatches from our blogs. If you’re looking for self-care inspiration and some more tips on how to make these a reality in your life, we encourage you to visit our archives and dive in!

  1. Knowledge and Health Literacy: As a series of G.I. Joe PSAs from the 80 expertly cautioned, “knowing is half the battle”. If you’re not aware of the benefits or consequences of your health and welling choices, how can you make sure to optimize yourself for success? Research, look at your family’s medical history, talk to your doctor and take control of your health. Knowledge is power!
  • Mental Wellbeing, Self Awareness & Agency: While your self-care capabilities might be limited by poor health, it’s hard to even begin the road to taking better care of yourself if you don’t have the motivation or mindset to begin the journey.Having the critical self-awareness to identify the challenges and the willpower to improve upon them is a key building block to achieving the 5 other pillars. Some tips: measure your health status and habits and discard those that aren’t beneficial. Focus on reducing stressors and integrating routines that can provide mental and physical clarity, like daily walks. Finally, agency – your ability to apply these changes – be honest with yourself on what you can achieve and work to meet your goals, within reason. Another tip here: focus on small steps first, then shift to the larger goal.

  • Physical Activity: Mens sans in corpore sano – a famous Latin phrase that translates to a healthy body can sustain a healthy mind.The overwhelming body of medical and scientific literature backs this up. When it comes to self-care, it can be too easy to see physical activity as a vanity project, “do I need to go to the gym? I’m happy with how I look”. While a powerful self-esteem and resilient body-image is a great element of strong self-care tendencies, recognizing that the human body is a machine that requires physical activity to keep it running efficiently is important too. No matter what, achieving a level of physical activity that’s realistic for you will be more beneficial than none at all. You’ll also appreciate some of the social benefits of group physical activity too!
  • Good Hygiene: More than just smelling good, hygiene is an important part of your overall health. Not only will it impact your social interactions but things like brushing your teeth regularly can have a significant impact on other, seemingly unrelated health outcomes, like lowering your chance of heart risk or reducing your depressive symptoms. Hygiene is such a big part of self-care that we tend to focus on it the most, to the detriment of the other pillars discussed here. Why? It’s much easier to focus on showering regularly than it is to ask the uncomfortable questions about our own wellbeing and bad habits. Ultimately, because it might be the easier part of your self-care checklist to cross off, it can be a great foundation to ensure the rest of your pillars are built firmly.

Ultimately, you know you better than anyone else. What does it take to recharge your batteries? What can you start doing today that’ll make for a better tomorrow? Today, forget about everyone else and plot out a day, just for you and a course for a happier and healthier future. In other words…


Why Organizing Your Desk can Help Organize Your Life

A universal cliché: the eternal battle between the child’s messy room and the parent’s demand for order. I know that many of you fought this fight too. Perhaps if you’re like me, you begrudgingly accepted your chore, knowing you couldn’t win (or risk the withdrawal of other privileges), while promising yourself that one day, when you were on your own, you would leave your clothes in whichever pile you felt like leaving them in.

Look around you – did you keep that promise to yourself? Are your things neat and tidy, the dishes put away? If so, what sparked your cleanliness conversion?   If not, do you feel happy in your clutter or a sense of nagging guilt?

Clutter and mess can have a profound effect on our emotional state. It can cause stress, bombard us with excessive stimuli, disrupt productivity, make us feel inadequate and be an external indicator of mental health issues like anxiety and depression. It can also impact your physical health too and worsening what could be an already vulnerable state.

An old saying: “cleanliness is next to godliness”. As a turn of phrase, it was recorded in a 1778 sermon but the idea itself harkens back to Babylonian and Hebrew religious literature and might prove that our parents, and their parents and so on, were right all along.

Today, the spiritual quest for cleanliness has been given renewed vitality with its latest prophet: Marie Kondo. A Japanese author whose best selling work, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, has been translated into dozens of languages, and the star of the Netflix series, “Tidying up with Marie Kondo”, Kondo’s goal has been to help others find the “joy” in tidying up; that is, keeping the things that spark joy and disposing of those things that do not. Since her show aired, thousands have taken up the challenge and have credited Kondo’s method with changing their lives.

This isn’t just pop science: there have been numerous studies that have made the link between cleaning and improved mental health and wellness. One study found that cluttered homes were linked to a higher expressed level of the stress hormone cortisol. In a previous blogpost, we covered the importance of a good night’s rest for your mental health. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 75% of people say they get a better night’s rest when their sheets are clean. This extends beyond physical clutter: pursuing organization and discipline in your daily goals and life pursuits can result in “fewer negative emotions”, according to another study.

Back to Marie Kondo. If you’ve got some mess and want to destress, consider her six basic tips for cleaning and spark some joy back in your life:

  1. Commit yourself to tidying up
  2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle
  3. Finish discarding first
  4. Tidy by category, not by location
  5. Follow the right order
  6. Ask yourself if it ‘sparks joy’

Ultimately, life is messy. Some people are more privileged with time, help and circumstance and can easily live a clean, clutter-free existence. It’s not so easy for everyone else, like single parents juggling multiple, messy children. Even if your space won’t grace the cover of “Cleaning Hygiene Magazine”, try to find some time to bring some order to your environment – it could help you achieve a happier you.


How to Enjoy your Commute

Commuting to and from work is one of the most unifying rituals on earth. No matter where we are from, what we do, or where we do it, we all have to get ourselves from our living quarters to our workplace. There are, of course, countless ways to do this: cars, buses, trains, trams, scooters, bikes, rollerblades, and feet are all well-used modes of transportation for these morning and evening trips.

But commuting can also be a sticking point, especially if it eats up much of our day. Last year, CNBC reported that full-time workers spend over four hours a week commuting; spread over a year, this means we spend the equivalent of almost nine days in transit to and from work. This is the average, though; some folks spend less time, while others spend much, much more. Workers in Hamilton, a small city on Lake Ontario, transit to and from the city of Toronto for work, which can add up to over three hours of commuting each day. Gruelling suburban transit stories like this are common.

But the primary gripe with long commutes is the loss of time. This is fair, as it is our most precious and important commodity. But commuting doesn’t have to be lost time; it can, in fact, be well-used. If we want to transform our commute into a time and space that is productive, we have to consider the limitations of our situations, and work within them. Here are three commuting scenarios, and ideas for each that can maximize your experience and leave you feeling not frustrated, but fulfilled.

In the car…

The solo automobile drive into work is still one of the most predominant modes of workday commute for North Americans. It’s become synonymous with bumper-to-bumper traffic, furious horn-honking, and general discontent (an experience perhaps no better parodied than in this Office Space scene). Since we are occupied with the task at hand—driving—we have few options for recreation or engagement.

Gone are the days of I-Spy; cue the rise of podcasts! These longform audio reports have rocketed to the top of the North American consciousness with content that is tailored to each listener: some are humorous, some are hard-hitting investigative features, and some are simply educational pop culture commentary. There are dozens of podcasts for each niche and interest, so simply Google search an interest keyword and ‘podcast’ for an array of results. These will keep you stimulated and perhaps even laughing while you’re inching to work.

On public transit…

Podcasts are a fan-favourite for public transit commutes, too, which is why you’ll probably hear the occasional laughing outburst on the subway, or see someone nodding their head in agreement on the bus. But if you want to be more engaged in your surroundings while taking public transit (a safety measure for some), take out the earbuds and consider keeping tabs on your commute times.

There are a number of apps that allow users to track their daily commutes, like Commute Diary, Commute Tracker, and more. Tracking your commute provides you with useful data: you can average out commute times and see which routes wind up being the quickest, or which parts of the day are the slowest (which means you can schedule your transiting accordingly).

On a bike…

Podcasts and commute tracking apps are fair game on the bike, depending on your comfort level (we personally recommend keeping your ears bud-free, and staying attuned to your surroundings). But similar to the tracker apps we use on transit, we can access cycle-specific ones to keep tabs on our physical activity—something that often comes at a premium now, given long workdays and sedentary work routines.

Strava lets cyclists share their routes and progress with other cyclists on a social media-style feed, while monitoring essential info like HRM, speed, elevation, and other stats. Apps like these also encourage personal strength-building: once you have a time locked in, you can start working on personal-bests. This turns an average commute into a productive and healthy personal endeavour that benefits you outside of the workplace.


Walking the Talk During Mental Health Month

Spring’s popular portrayal as a season of change is cliche for good reason: like all good cliches, it’s come from truth. Winter eases off its chokehold on flowers and trees, creatures emerge from their wintery cocoons, and the sun hangs around a little earlier and a little later, much to the delight of most normal humans. Spring is a busy shoulder season for the human population, too. We shake off wintery routines and shift into new ones; more time is spent outside; and our lived experience changes just as much as the world around us.

That’s why May is the perfect time for Mental Health Month, an occasion observed around the United States since 1949. (That makes this year the 70th observance!) Mental Health America has led the campaign, offering toolkits and information packages for interested parties to access. This includes workplaces: corporate participation accounts for a significant portion of Mental Health Month activity, and activating these discussions in the office is important given ties between depression and the workplace in America.

Mental Health Month has traditionally centred around the tenet of awareness-raising, which is a critical tool in the struggle to address mental health. Destigmatizing is the first step towards healing and action. But it is striking that, 70 years later, we are having the same conversations centering on destigmatization and awareness.

This Mental Health Month, it is vital that we begin to shift the conversation toward more material means and supports. As important as programs like healthy eating and exercise regimens are to encouraging a stronger and more stable lifestyle, when these are the only topics of discussion or remedies available, they effectively silo and isolate the issue as one that can be fixed through physical activity or maintaining a better diet. The reality of the matter is that most mental illnesses require clinical treatment, which costs money—a lot of it.

When preparing discussions around Mental Health Month, consider shifting conversations from the abstract to the real: focus on access to resources, and how people are or are not able to receive the treatment they need. (This, of course, depends on group comfortability with these conversations. Each workplace is different.) Recent MHA data shows that over 56% of American adults did not receive treatment for their mental illness. Workers cannot function well if they are grappling with not just mental illness, but the additional stress caused by either an inability to address it or the financial burden of addressing it.

In America, where random health crises can still bankrupt and financially devastate a family, it is especially important to consider your responsibility to your workers. While many companies will offer health coverage, mental health services are often only available on more expensive plans, which means individuals will be less likely to access them. Democratizing those resources via more affordable insurance plans is one step you can take to ensuring workplace mental wellness.

While awareness-raising campaigns are still important, focusing solely on these can hinder our abilities to truly address mental illness. This Mental Health Month, stimulate open, supportive dialogue with your employees about what they need to ensure their mental health. This information-gathering can then be turned into action and policy at your company, when possible. But if you’re going to talk the talk on mental health, make sure that you can walk it, too.


The Importance of Saving our Sleep from Hustle Culture

The current overculture is filled with hair-tousling aphorisms about less sleep, more work. ‘Sleep is for the weak!’ ‘You can sleep when you’re dead!’ These aren’t just lighthearted ribs, though. Over the span of just 70 years, we’ve cut our average sleep time by almost 20%. This isn’t random—professionals attribute this loss in sleep to a variety of factors, including increased blue-light absorption, distractions from personal devices, and even being out of tune with nature’s ebb and flow thanks to central air and heat. March 15 is National Sleep Day, but you probably didn’t see an ad for it on your Instagram.

It’s difficult to pin this on just one factor, but what’s certain is that our sleep patterns are shifting, and that might not be a good thing.

Scientists have long drawn a link between sleep and mental health, such that their relationship is codependent. More than 50% of individuals seeking help for mental health-related issues also deal with sleep loss. Some have gone a step further, assessing lack of sleep as a cause, rather than a symptom, of mental illness. Regardless of the diagnosis, it’s clear that sleep and mental health are correlated—both in positive and negative ways.

But another factor is the way that modern work culture has both exacerbated and commodified our lack of sleep. This messaging is related to something called ‘hustle culture,’ which some describe as “the complete abandonment of finding healthy work-life integration.” This culture is defined by words like grind, and phrases like ‘striving and thriving’—and of course, hustle. It describes a particular type of work that never ends; it glorifies working ‘round the clock (on the subway, when you get home, from your bed) and abandoning sleep (‘We run on coffee and sleep deprivation!’ as cutesy, team-building mantra) in the name of constant progress.

But in this equation, it is worth asking who is progressing and ‘thriving,’ and who isn’t. The New York Times recently posed, “Why Are Young People Pretending To Love Work?” The crux of the critique, like most assessments of ‘hustle culture,’ looks at how employers use this language—coupled with appealing ‘perks’ like free coffee, a beer fridge, and a foozeball table!—to keep their workers motivated to work harder, faster, and later.

But this culture has disastrous effects on workers’ mental health. The term ‘Millennial Burnout’ was coined to describe this phenomenon, in which young workers are pushed to their physical, emotional, and mental limits by hustle culture’s demands, which are often disguised as cultivating personal excellence. Many are identifying the dangers in this lifestyle: lack of sleep leading to other mental health disorders, and compensating with accelerants that keep us ‘grinding.’

Poking holes in hustle culture means recognizing that sleep is necessary if we’re going to ‘rise and thrive.’ We can’t truly ‘win all the time’ when we’re working off of one meal a day, four hours sleep, and six coffees; the winner in this equation is the person profiting from our nonstop labouring. So by all means, work hard; do the best work you can do. But don’t give up your sleep. It’s more important than the hustle.


Widen Your Understanding During National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Each March brings with it an annual offer to reevaluate and recalibrate what it means to be ‘intelligent.’ Intelligence is a concept and a word that’s loaded with imagery: of a sharp, even-keeled, well-read, post-secondary-educated person, or a brainy, bespectacled, lab-coat-wearing tech prodigy. Intelligence is either attainable or unattainable based on how closely your brain’s function matches constructed ideals like these.

While there are class-based concerns with who is or isn’t considered ‘intelligent’—not everyone can afford a post-secondary education—perhaps the more pressing concern can be revealed through a lens of ableism. Ableism is the term that describes discrimination based on ability or disability. For example, folks who use wheelchairs experience ableism when they can’t attend an event because the venue isn’t wheelchair-accessible. This is a broad example of a deep-reaching issue that stems from the fact that modern society has been constructed entirely around the experiences of ‘intelligent’ and able-bodied individuals.

Disability-identified folks who do not align with this vision often face both latent and explicit institutional barriers to access. This includes people who live with developmental disabilities. Since 1987, the month of March has been designated as National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in the United States, a campaign for disability rights and consciousness-raising across the country.

Most see the campaign as an imperative of sorts: to adjust our communities to meet the needs of disability-identified individuals. But it isn’t designed solely to affect the physical world—the campaign reminds us that these individuals have full, rich, nuanced, and diverse lived experiences. Ableist society is often structured such that these folks are viewed as inferior or in need of assistance, and while inclusive programming in our physical world is absolutely necessary, so too are inclusive understandings of what it means to live with disability.

A key part of understanding ableism is understanding that it is this very discriminatory mechanism that prevents disability-identified folks from accessing the aforementioned full, rich, nuanced, and diverse lived experiences. If ableism (and, as a result, a world developed around ableism) didn’t exist—if all spaces were perfectly inclusive and accommodating for all disabilities—these individuals would be able to navigate the world without concern, and their experiences wouldn’t be defined by deficit or inaccessibility.

While this paradigm-shift takes time, inclusive programming is an immediate and simple change to make that can benefit disability-identified folks in your community. This month, consider taking steps to ensure that spaces where events are held have accommodations for individuals who use wheelchairs and other mobility aids. For events with spoken components, look into hiring a sign language interpreter deaf folks, or for visual presentations, incorporate braille or tactile pieces that make the work accessible. These signal that all are welcome and considered.

National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month isn’t just about awareness-raising; it’s about combating institutional discrimination against disability-identified individuals, and that’s a fight that we should continue all year long.


It’s National Eating Disorder Week: Here’s Some Facts to Bring You Up to Speed

From February 25th to March 3rd, the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) will be highlighting its fight through National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. This year’s theme: Come As You Are, a theme dedicated toward inspiring body acceptance and positivity, which can help prevent eating disorders from manifesting. NEDA has also articulated that this year’s theme was chosen to highlight that eating disorders don’t discriminate and affect people across lines of gender, colour and sexuality.

About Eating Disorders

More than 30 million Americans struggle with some form of eating disorder. Despite their trivialization as a minor issue or a choice, someone dies approximately every hour, directly from an eating disorder.

While eating disorders conjure up thoughts of the calorically-deficient Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder is the most common eating disorder in the U.S. and can increase the risks of other health issues ranging from diabetes to obesity. Another one that many people don’t know about but some shows have ‘popularized’ as a form of entertainment, Picais the compulsive eating of substances that are largely non-nutritive, including hair, soil, metal and more. Apparently, the disorder is on the rise – between 1999 and 2009, Pica hospitalizations increased 93 per cent, more than any other eating disorder. More forms of eating disorders exist, including those that don’t are more individual in nature,  previously categorized as “eating disorder not otherwise specified” (EDNOS), which because of their lack of precedence, can be harder to treat.

How are They Treated?

Given the variety of eating disorders, symptoms and difference in psychological factors in each individual, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating eating disorders. Other health issues and complications that arise from eating disorders, like kidney issues for those suffering from Anorexia or heart disease in those with Binge-Eating Disorder, can further change a medical professional’s approach. The Mayo Clinic cites a multi-pronged approach that includes the development of a treatment plan, psychological therapy, nutrition education and medication and hospitalization, if required. There are many similarities in treatment to those with substance abuse issues – in fact, “50% of individuals with eating disorders abused alcohol or illicit drugs, a rate five times higher than the general population.” NEDA cites that as with substance abuse, early intervention in the fight against an eating disorder is essential.

Come As You Are and Get Involved

Ahead of National Eating Disorder Week, NEDA has launched the Body Acceptance Challenge; encouraging people to “reject diet culture” by accepting their bodies, respecting others and fighting weight stigma. They’ve also partnered with the Mall of America to provide training and support for its guests, tenants and employees.

There will be several Eating Disorder Awareness Walks held over the coming week across America:


Mental Health and Media: How TV and Film Can Influence Attitudes on Mental Health

If you head to Netflix right now and type “mental health” into the search bar, nearly two dozen television shows and films will be listed. Try “mental illness”, “crazy” or “insane”, and you’ll return several dozen more. There’s no denying that mental health is a heavily-used trope on the silver screen – whether it’s a character’s quirk or a plot device, its depiction can ultimately become a key influencer on an audience’s perceptions of various mental illnesses or behavioural issues.

The dramatization of illness for entertainment is somewhat of a moral dilemma – is it ethically defensible or something that the onward march of progress and sensibility will inevitably show that our shows lacked grace? In today’s blogpost, we’ll take a look at some of the ways that today’s media is impacting our understanding and approach to mental illness. On a brighter note, we’ll take a look at some recent programs that have done a better job than most.

Romanticizing Self-Harm and Suicide:

There was a swirl of controversy in 2017 after Netflix dramatized the book series 13 Reasons Why into a televised series. The show, narrated in part by a girl who has committed suicide and the boy who loved her, follows her complex plan to achieve justice and understanding for herself from beyond the grave. With its high school setting and cast, critics argued that the show made suicide look cool or justifiable and could be a dangerous influencer on impressionable minds.

It’s hardly the first media to do so (remember Romeo & Juliet? From English class) but hopefully, with more voices speaking out, it’ll be one of the last. “Suicide Contagion” is a real phenomenon: exposure to someone else’s suicide in real life or media depicting it can increase your likelihood of considering or committing suicide. It’s important to do what we can to reduce its glorification, especially among younger audiences – it’s among the top five causes of death for adolescents and young adults.

Mentally Ill? Must be Violent/Unhinged:

More than 20 years ago, a study found that depictions of mentally ill individuals in prime-time television were nearly 10 times more violent than the general population of television characters, and 10 to 20 times more violent when compared to those suffering mental illness in the US population.

Since then, the number of TV shows has exploded: in 2017, 487 original shows aired – compared to 182, fifteen years prior. Following that logic, audiences are being exposed to more-and-more instances that depict those suffering from mental illness as violent, unstable and a threat. This creates stigma and it can cost lives: those suffering from mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed during police encounters and some suggest that stigma might influence the decision to use lethal force.

In fact, those suffering from mental illness are more likely to harm themselves than others. These skewed depictions can be irresponsible and can create real life risk for those suffering from mental illness.

Marginalizing Medication and Inventing Superpowers: The show’s main character must solve the big dilemma but the medication they take to keep their behaviour in check muddies their gifts. They stop taking their medication, allowing their mind to “clear up” and save the day. While the “disability superpower” trope can be affirming and positive in some cases, depictions that promote medication as a barrier to brilliance are dangerous, particularly to those suffering from mental illness. One of the worst recent offenders: Split, a movie which depicts a man who stops taking his medication, allowing his 23 distinct separate personalities to manifest – one of which literally turns him into an unstoppable, superhuman creature.

This is another example of the impact of romanticizing mental illness: depression won’t make your seem smart and brooding but it could make you irritable with digestive issues to boot. Not only are mental health issues not a superpower but medication can sometimes be the only way to live a happy and healthy life.

Check These Shows/Films Out:

Are any programs out there doing a good job of creating a better narrative about mental illness? While there are certainly plenty of offenders, some recent television shows and films have been educational rather than sensational. Here’s a few:

  1. Bojack Horseman: Praised for its “brave depiction” of depression, animated series Bojack Horseman is self-aware and unromantic in its depiction of mental health issues, while still delivering as an enjoyable dark comedy.
  • Crazy-Ex Girlfriend: While “crazy” might not be the most woke adjective to use, the comedy does a good job at depicting mental health issues, beginning with a fatigue-driven crisis that ultimately delivers the show’s main character to the hometown of her ex-boyfriend. Like Bojack, Crazy-Ex Girlfriend delivers without being preachy or using kid’s gloves – it depicts the effects of mental illness as they are, without rose tinted glasses.
  • Homeland: The series, now heading into its 8th season follows Carrie, a CIA operative  battling terrorists – and bipolar disorder. Why I’ve included it on the list: early on in the show, we see the split between medicated and unmedicated Carrie – how quickly she loses control of things, including her family and career when she choosing to go cold turkey on her medication. The show also depicts a strong and intelligent person who suffers from mental illness – showing that it doesn’t have to make one less capable of living a successful life.

Life After Graduation: Managing Stress while Planning Your Next Steps

It’s early – you’ve still got a few months to go before the semester is over, at least one before exams and end-of-term essays become a reality. If you haven’t knocked this year out of the park like you might have meant to – relax, regroup and focus on achieving success in your next academic year.

If you’re graduating – congratulations! You’ve made it through what most students report is a stressful period in their lives. Now you’ve got some form of accreditation and you’re ready to conquer whatever comes next.

Wait – what comes next?

Call it post-graduation stress, quarter-life crisis, PCSD or whatever you’d like but the transition period for students exiting academia to begin their entry into the workforce is a significant event in a graduate’s life that can tax your wellbeing and mental health. Some of the common stressors include:

  • Finding a job in your field of study
  • Determining the best career path to achieving your goals
  • Losing connection with your friends and support networks from school
  • Figuring out your living logistics (moving back in with your parents, relocating, etc.)

Not to mention other social and financial concerns as well. There’s no denying it’s a big change that requires courage, preparedness and a can-do attitude. In today’s blogpost, we’re going to outline some things to keep in mind that can help ensure you feel just as good about finishing school as you did when you were younger and done for the summer.

  1. Don’t Leave Your Planning to the Last Minute:  This one is probably the most important tip for managing the actual workload of your transition. If you’re behind, don’t panic – see #3. At many schools, campus recruiting season starts in the Fall semester and extends into the Spring semester, with offers beginning in March. If you haven’t already investigated your school’s campus recruiting initiatives, make sure you resume is ready and hit the ground running!  Otherwise, there is no better time than the present to begin exploring and applying for job opportunities that commence after graduation.
  • Routine will make you Resilient: We can never be completely certain about what opportunities lay ahead, whether it’s a job offer or a grad school acceptance. Sometimes it’s a pleasant surprise and other times, a bitter disappointment. You can better prepare yourself for success, whatever the outcome by adopting healthy habits now. By creating and enforcing a routine that promotes productivity, health and wellbeing, you’ll be better equipped when you start the next phase of your life, whether it’s your career or starting the new job hunt in earnest. Make sure your routine emphasizes positive financial, organizational physical and mental health habits.
  • Give Yourself a Break: You’re young – most likely in your early 20s. No one expects you to have it all-squared away just yet. More importantly, there’s no age limit on achieving success. In the grand scheme of things, whether you’ve secured a job right out of school or months later will not have any real impact on your career or personal development. Additionally, there’s nothing to be gained from comparing yourself to others – why measure yourself by someone else’s yardstick?
  • You’re not Bound by the ‘Now’: Are you feeling like what you decide to do next will ultimately determine your fate? Relax –  a UK study highlights that 19 out of 20 graduates have changed jobs at least once within three years of graduating. In fact, the average worker holds ten different jobs before the age of 40 and the next generation of workers are expected to move around even more. While it’s important that you choose the opportunities that are right for you and don’t accept the next step begrudgingly, just because you feel like you have to, remember that you can use this next stage as the launchpad for great things to come, whether or not it’s your first choice.