This Mental Health Matters was written by Daniel Burke, CFP®, ChFC®, & CLU®, Controller, Ravenwood Health 

In May of this year, I joined Ravenwood Health as controller, where I support the finance and information technology needs of our talented team of behavioral health workers, as they work to support our clients and community. This has been quite an edification process, as most of my prior positions were at for-profit companies and financial institutions. My previous jobs were good. I was treated well and rewarded for good work, but the desire to participate in (what I perceived to be) a more meaningful mission prompted me to make the change. While I am not a behavioral health worker, one benefit of working with Ravenwood is the opportunity to get to know the community and help support our mission. 

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, opportunities to get to know the community remain limited, and I hope that this message is the first of many interactions. As we enter the holiday season, I wanted to talk about Movember, the charitable movement focusing on men’s mental health and wellness. This Movember the focus in our community is on communicating with and supporting men we know that are struggling with their mental health or substance abuse. It is no small task to support someone that is dealing with these challenges. Often when someone most needs support, it is at a time when their mindset makes it the most difficult for us to give. 

In the spirit of Movember, the Geauga Suicide Prevention Coalition is challenging us to “Strive for 5” in November. Are there five people who come to your mind that might benefit from a friendly call or an old-fashioned note in the mail? Has your “checking in” and “touching base” become texts and “likes”? Does more of what you know about how someone is doing come from their status updates and social media posts or from deliberate and specific interpersonal contact? Has a reliance on social media and text messages led to a strange combination of oversharing in some ways, and depersonalization in others? 

There is so much anxiety and uncertainty right now that I suspect almost everyone would welcome a friendly phone call and a non-judgmental ear. Support can be as simple as listening to the person. You may not have profound insight to share or expert advice to give. The show of care by calling and support by listening can be all that you bring to the table. In my short time with Ravenwood, I have learned that you do not have to be behavioral health workers to make a positive difference in someone’s day. 

These conversations might be awkward or difficult. The Geauga Suicide Prevention Coalition even offers training on starting the conversation with someone who may be suffering with mental health issues. I suspect that the second call will be easier than the first, and the third call easier than the second; however, the best way to start is to pick up the phone and make that first call. Your call might arrive at just the right time to be far more helpful that you ever will know. 

Have a safe, happy and healthy Movember!

I am currently reading “The Zealot and the Emancipator” by HW Brands. A nonfiction book simultaneously about the horrors of slavery, the consequences of a divided nation, and how men with mental health issues can pursue (and achieve) greatness.