Plant, cup of coffee and journal on a table

The Power of Meaningful Work on Mental Health

Our client, Jill Wei­de­mann-West, CEO of Peo­ple Incor­po­rat­ed Men­tal Health Ser­vices, said it best last year in a Min­nPost arti­cle dur­ing Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Aware­ness Month, “The fear and iso­la­tion of COVID, the dis­rup­tion to our busi­ness­es, fam­i­lies, chil­dren and edu­ca­tion­al sys­tems, and, of course, the unrest and trau­ma so present in our com­mu­ni­ties has pushed might­i­ly on our resilience, our sense of safe­ty and our hope.”

In short – and to echo what we all already know: the past year-plus has been a whole lot.

As some­one who grap­ples with men­tal ill­ness in “nor­mal times,” liv­ing and work­ing through a pan­dem­ic has exac­er­bat­ed some symp­toms and test­ed many of the cop­ing mech­a­nisms I’d packed my tool­box with over the years. But I’ll tell you, work­ing with a team who acknowl­edges the hard stuff, while seek­ing out and plan­ning for the good stuff has been the bright­est light for me through it all. Equal­ly sig­nif­i­cant is the work we get to shine a light on for our clients who are doing impact­ful, inno­v­a­tive and down­right impor­tant things to improve the qual­i­ty of life for and men­tal health of our communities:

  • Sec­ond Har­vest Heart­land con­tin­ues to be a client that fills my per­son­al cup, while they’re lit­er­al­ly help­ing to fill the tables of Min­nesotans fac­ing food inse­cu­ri­ty. We’d been telling hope­ful sto­ries pre-pan­dem­ic about hunger reach­ing pre-Great Reces­sion lev­els. When COVID hit our state seem­ing­ly overnight, hunger began ris­ing due to fur­loughs and lay­offs, kids miss­ing school meals, and the sheer need to stay home to con­trol the virus spread. Sec­ond Har­vest Heart­land met the need quick­ly and cre­ative­ly by pack­ing and deliv­er­ing emer­gency food box­es to food shelves and host­ing emer­gency gro­cery pop-ups with con­tact­less curb-to-trunk dis­tri­b­u­tion. They also part­nered with Chow­girls Cater­ing and Loaves & Fish­es to form Min­neso­ta Cen­tral Kitchen (MCK) – a col­lab­o­ra­tion of restau­rants, cater­ers, com­mer­cial kitchens, hunger-relief orga­ni­za­tions, com­mu­ni­ty-based part­ners, and donors to keep food­ser­vice work­ers employed and com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers fed through pre­pared meals. We helped tell the MCK sto­ry – and raise over $700,000! – to com­mem­o­rate a year of the pro­gram through the Pitch In for the Kitchen cam­paign. Work­ing with Sec­ond Har­vest Heart­land through the pan­dem­ic has been a rea­son to get out of bed each morn­ing… and walk across the hall to my desk!
  • Our work with Peo­ple Incor­po­rat­ed looked much dif­fer­ent last year than it has in years past. In 2019, much of our time was spent ramp­ing up to the big 50-year anniver­sary gala. In 2020, the organization’s Train­ing Insti­tute became a resource for any­one strug­gling to lead a team through the cri­sis, cop­ing with the extreme stress of a 180-degree lifestyle change or learn­ing about trau­ma-informed care. When the mask man­date was new, we helped the Train­ing Insti­tute share their exper­tise for empa­thet­ic de-esca­la­tion when met with defi­ance. It’s a con­stant reminder – and hon­or – when work­ing with Peo­ple Incor­po­rat­ed that we all have men­tal health, and sup­port­ing the men­tal health of our whole com­mu­ni­ty serves us all bet­ter as a result.
  • R3 Con­tin­u­um (R3c) has been an invalu­able resource for hun­dreds of com­pa­nies as they nav­i­gate “unprece­dent­ed” chal­lenges relat­ed to work­place stress, cri­sis, secu­ri­ty threats, men­tal health con­cerns and more. R3 Con­tin­u­um has been a pil­lar of strength and a trust­ed resource by many orga­ni­za­tions for over 25 years. A glob­al leader in work­place behav­ioral health and secu­ri­ty solu­tions, R3c helps to ensure the psy­cho­log­i­cal and phys­i­cal safe­ty of orga­ni­za­tions and their employ­ees in today’s com­plex and often dan­ger­ous world. From tran­si­tion­ing back to in-per­son work, sup­port­ing employ­ees’ men­tal health and nav­i­gat­ing the sec­ond pan­dem­ic, we’ve enjoyed telling the sto­ries of the very real ways this client is sup­port­ing com­pa­nies in crit­i­cal ways – and we’ve learned valu­able lessons that have ben­e­fit­ted our own team along the way.

This client work is mean­ing­ful to us at Bell­mont Part­ners as we see the rip­ple effects on com­mu­ni­ties and their businesses.

Equal­ly impor­tant to our team is tak­ing care of our­selves to be able to sus­tain good work, and rest plays a big role in that. One small way we’re pri­or­i­tiz­ing that togeth­er is by tak­ing a col­lec­tive break as an agency on Fri­day, May 28, to reboot and recharge over the Memo­r­i­al Day weekend.

I know I’ll be using some of that time reflect­ing on the priv­i­lege it is to work with and for peo­ple who deeply care about people.

Take good care.

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