Paul Daniel, the executive director of Center Associates, wants people to know there is a beacon of light amidst bleak times.
Mental Illness Awareness Week is being observed across the globe, with World Mental Health Day on Sunday, an important reminder to be cognizant of these often hidden issues.
“Hope is not canceled,” Daniel said. “Hope is something that is far greater than our problems.
Hope is having the strength to generate a new belief that anything is possible. Finding hope provides a fresh start, a do-over, or a second chance.”
Part of raising awareness is breaking down the stigma around seeking help and struggling with mental health. JBS Marshalltown has recently joined the fight in breaking the stigma.
“As a socially responsible employer and a leader in this community, we wanted to be one of the first that says, ‘Hey, let’s get rid of this. Let’s stop the stigma, and let’s really talk about it,’” JBS Marshalltown Human Resources Director Patrick Brue said.
For the past month, in partnership with Center Associates, JBS Marshalltown has been providing employees free on-site appointments with mental health professionals. It is the first JBS plant to provide no-cost counseling services, and the practice is now being explored at some of the company’s other facilities.
“For our employees, behavioral health is paramount,” Brue said. “Sometimes they need help. We’re a busy business. We work on a daily basis, and we want to make sure that people have the capability of seeing a behavioral health professional when they need to on a set appointment. I think it’s something that’s really positive for our employees, not just on a work aspect, but for their personal lives.”
Right now, appointments are offered one day a week, and employees schedule appointments during working hours.
So far, according to Brue, the feedback has been incredibly positive. He feels that providing mental health services to employees will strengthen their well-being and strengthen the community.
Daniel also held multiple sessions with the management team at JBS Marshalltown on mental health needs, and he believes that the company recognizes the importance of the issue.
“It has to be a whole company process,” Daniel said. “It can’t just be two or three people saying, ‘Hey, mental health is good,’ and there’s no teeth to it. So they’ve really put teeth behind it and said, ‘Hey, we believe in it. We’re going to help our community, and we’re going to help our employees.’”
Daniel stressed the importance of keeping an eye out for mental health symptoms and not waiting to hit rock bottom before seeking help.
“I think people in general are very resilient. They’re able to manage it, but what is that threshold? When you can’t do it anymore, are you willing to put the pride down and say, ‘Hey, I need to talk to somebody, or I need a different viewpoint on this?’” Daniel asked.
Contact Trevor Babcock at 641-753-6611 or [email protected].