I try to write a blog post three times a month, but I’ve been traveling and speaking about mental illness and stigma. My recent speech to neuroscience students at the University of North Carolina and Duke University, two of the top eight universities in the U.S., was one I titled “The Speech I Wish I had heard when I was an Undergraduate.”

My college years were during Nixon’s first term as President and the Vietnam War was raging. The only thing I knew about mental illness then was jokes and the family secret my Dad’s older sister was a little off and her son once shot himself in the leg to keep from going to school. No labels for mother and son because going to a psychiatrist would bring shame to the family. Our family engaged in its own conspiracy of silence about mental illness. My poor cousin is in his 80’s now living in his mother’s house and eating from cans of food neighbors give him. He has schizophrenia, but never formerly diagnosed and no medicine, of course. An Uncle checks on his welfare from time to time.

I wish I had heard the speech I gave in North Carolina when I was a student because I could have realized I was mentally ill. Why else would severe depression lead me to the decision to take my life? Obviously, I didn’t follow through.

Sad story, isn’t it? Now think about your employees who may be suffering from depression or other mental illness too afraid of stigma at work to get help. Think about the impact untreated mental illness has on productivity and your company’s bottom line.

May I suggest a starting point in ending the conspiracy of silence on mental illness in your company by inviting someone like me to speak at a company meeting or to your Board of Directors? I speak frankly with a touch of self-deprecating humor to keep my audiences engaged. I am hired as a keynote speaker because I am not boring. You have plenty of employees or yourself without training as a public speaker and put the audience asleep so they miss a message that could save their lives and enrich your company. My latest speech to university students isn’t posted on my website yet, but an earlier one is there. I delivered it to the Turning Point Foundation in Ventura, CA and titled it “17 Minutes.” The title came from the fact that there is one suicide every 17 minutes in the U.S. because people don’t get treatment for mental illness out of fear of stigma.  

You should listen to me before hiring me, of course.  Consider it my audition and a bit of “shameless self- promotion,” as my mentor Patricia Fripp calls it. http://www.tomspeaksout.com.

You can schedule me through MVP Seminars 442-300-2425.

My corporate speech title is “Mental Health in the Workplace Makes Dollars and ’Sense.’” I explain the steps a company should take to make the workplace mental health-friendly, and demonstrate how that translates into productivity and adds to the bottom line. I look forward to hearing from you and will applaud you for the courage to break the conspiracy of silence about mental illness in the workplace.

 

- See more at: http://www.mvpseminars.com/blog/wellness/how-you-can-end-corporate-conspiracy-silence-mental-illness#sthash.kaG06xFc.dpuf
 


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