Here in CreditUnionLand, we pride ourselves on being different. We’re not-for-profit entities. We’re cooperatives. Most of us tend to communicate a business posture of people over profit.
That’s not to say, of course, that we don’t pay attention to numbers. I mean, let’s be honest, we love our numbers. ROI. ROA. ROE. REO (Speedwagon).
But I’ve got some more numbers for you, and these numbers are seriously mind-blowing. Ready?
That’s the number of adults in the U.S. with a diagnosable mental disorder within the past year. That’s nearly 1 in 5 people. Now look around your workspace. Count five people…
That, my friends, is the soul-wrenching number of suicides in the United States in 2014 (the last year data is available). That’s more than the number of homicides.
Suicide is the tenth-leading cause of death in the United States, and the suicide rate has gone up approximately 25% just in the last 15 years.
That’s the approximate percentage of adults in the United States who had a mental health condition but didn’t get help. Research shows us that the negative stigma around mental illness is one of the major drivers of this number. Another driver? I’ll give you a hint: it often has something to do with their manager.
Yes, that’s Billion with a “B,” and it’s the estimated amount of lost earnings here in the United States every year due to mental illness.
According to the CDC, this is the percentage of people with mental illness who feel like others are not caring or sympathetic when it comes to their condition. Are you seeing the opportunity yet?
If you’re still not, try this number out…
That’s the number of people in the United States who will commit suicide today.
I’ll let that sink in for a moment.
One hundred seventeen people.
That’s assuming today is an “average” day, and I can’t even tell you how sick to my stomach it makes me to use the word average to describe a day wherein 117 people die by ending their own lives. That’s more people than will be murdered today, even if there’s a mass shooting.
Now here’s the kicker. Our responsibility is huge, and it’s two-fold.
First, we have a responsibility, and I’d argue it’s a moral responsibility, to provide workplaces that are conducive to mental health.
This is where healthy culture comes into play, and this is why leadership is such a big, big deal.
Leadership is the single, biggest driver of mental health (for better or worse) within the workplace. Research shows us that it is the factor that has the largest impact on people’s mental health.
I was stunned the further I dug into this within the context of the research I was doing on psychopath CEOs. Not only is there a strong correlation between poor leadership behaviors and mental health issues in employees, but research also shows us causation. In other words, bad managers and executives can and do cause mental health issues in your employees.
Now don’t miss this. That’s actually happening. Right now. Today. In our credit unions.
It’d be wise of us to start paying more attention to this. Courts have begun holding companies and their boards liable for allowing (and therefore enabling) toxic and mentally/emotionally abusive managers and executives to remain in positions where they’re doing very real harm to people and their mental health.
Second — and here’s where we see a huge opportunity to do real good within our communities – if we’re inherently more human in our philosophy than other businesses, why aren’t we throwing more of our weight behind this issue?
There are few problems facing our communities that are more human than this. So what if credit unions were a force for good related to this cause? Mental health issues are so pervasive, and they clearly tear at the very fabric of our communities. Isn’t that exactly where credit unions should be?
Some of you may be tempted to say I’m overstating my case. Some of you may be tempted to say I’m making too big a deal of this. Some of you may be tempted to say that I’m taking it way too seriously.
I say we’re not taking this anywhere close to seriously enough.