Giving Compass' Take:

• Vu Le shares advice from Ashley Fontaine about how nonprofits (and other organizations) can support the mental health needs of their employees. 

• What are the consequences of neglecting employee mental health? How are organizations you support taking care of their employees? 

• Learn about an organization working to change the mental health conversation on college campuses.

I asked colleague Ashley Fontaine, executive director of NAMI Seattle, the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) what nonprofits need to know and do regarding mental health and suicide. Here are a few things she recommends:

Talk about it, and normalize mental health as part of our overall health:

There is such a stigma around mental illness that it can be hard or people to bring up the fact that they may be dealing with challenges.

Get trained:

Attend mental health workshops. Make sure everyone on your team has the basic knowledge of mental health, what to do to support colleagues, how to reach out if you yourself may be dealing with challenges, and how to create an environment that is open and supportive regarding mental health.

Provide adequate and mental-health-friendly policies and benefits:

Sick leave policies should explicitly mention mental health, including preventative and ongoing treatment.

Create an environment of life-work balance, and model it:

Says Ashley, “There are no winners in a competition to see who can run themselves into the ground the hardest. When I see organizations embodying this kind of behavior, I know that it’s not an organization that is even considering the mental health of its employees.”

Avoid using stigmatizing words like “crazy”:

This is extremely hard to do, because terms like “crazy,” “psycho,” “schizophrenic,” and “loony” have been so ingrained into our vernacular and culture.

Understand that any of us can be at risk for suicide:

Suicide has increased over the past decade, to the point where it is now a public health epidemic.

Care personally about one another:

Let’s care about one another enough to act, even when we may not know all the answers.

Check in on colleagues who may be having challenges:

If you think someone may need support, check in on them.

If you are feeling suicidal, please get help:

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, or use their text or chat line. 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or

Read the full article about mental health Vu Le at Nonprofit AF.