Contributed by Bill Overton, PCAM

When I wrote an essay on burnout and mental health in the community association management workplace in late 2021, I did so with a mixture of hope and trepidation. I hoped that my story would help others in need and lower the stigma related to mental health issues, and I worried that publishing my mental illness for all to see might be committing career suicide. Far from that, in the 18 months that have followed, the reception of this topic has been nothing less than extraordinary.

When I’ve spoken on mental health, I’ve always been surprised and overwhelmed by the number of folks who’ve come to me and said they are struggling with stress, anxiety, and burnout, too. My mind had me convinced that I was “in this alone.” That hasn’t been true at all.

I’m also incredibly moved by the way CAI and management company executives have begun to embrace and address this important issue. In my original essay, I posited a theory that, in addition to the monumental human cost of depression and burnout in our society, there also is a huge financial cost. It turns out I was right. Studies from Gallup and Deloitte prove my point.

Stress and mental health issues in the workplace are a pandemic that is far larger than COVID-19 or any other disease currently or recently dealt with in the world. Stigma about mental health still exists and discourages individuals from coming forward and workplaces from taking constructive action.

There is some good news:

❚ A major step forward to improve and address mental health issues is simply to manage employees and workplace culture better.

❚ Awareness is improving, and the stigma of mental health is being lowered.

❚ More employers and insurance companies are recognizing this as an important issue to be managed, and programs are improving and growing in number.

❚ Young people get how important this is and are prioritizing their mental health at much higher levels than previous generations.

❚ This is actually low-hanging fruit. The solution is simply to manage our employees better, create more positive workplace cultures, and manage the work we do more equitably and sensibly.

We can lead from the top as executives and managers by prioritizing our own well-being and providing support for all.

My go-to tips to manage my mental health at work are:

❚ Get good sleep, eat well, exercise, and meditate.

❚ Seek the assistance of a counselor and medical doctors, as needed.

❚ Prioritize work tasks to ensure the most important work is done on time. Small things can wait.

❚ Communicate regularly with my superiors about what is going on day to day with my work and with me personally.

Staff reasonably to achieve the stated service objectives. I don’t have super powers; none of us do. If we need a bigger team, we need a bigger team. Or, we need to curb expectations.

❚ Help others. This isn’t just part of a recovery program: It is also the key to happiness in life.

The commitment we make to improving mental health awareness is a crusade that will improve our industry and change the quality of workplace life for all.

>>May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Please email me if I can ever listen or help.

Bill Overton is a manager with Desert Resort Management in Palm Desert, Calif. He serves on CAI’s Community Association Managers Council.

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