May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Please join the USW Tony Mazzocchi Center in recognizing Mental Health Awareness Month.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – also known as SAMHSA – Mental Health Awareness Month was established in 1949 “to increase awareness of the importance of mental health and wellness in Americans’ lives to celebrate recovery from mental illness.”

The United Steelworkers (USW) Tony Mazzocchi Center (TMC) believes that mental health and wellbeing are just as important as our physical health. All wounds are not always visible. Workplace injuries and illnesses are not always visible. Stress from everyday life, including work-related stress, impacts our health and may lead to more serious injuries and illnesses.

It is important for us to recognize signs and symptoms of stress and stress-related trauma in ourselves so that we could focus on healing, seeking help and building resilience. It’s also helpful if we could identify these signs in our loved ones and communities – especially after something terrible has occurred, for example, a natural disaster.

Diana Mejia is a USWTMC Specialized Emergency Response Trainer. As part of the SERTs team, Mejia facilitates Disaster Preparedness training to assist local unions, worker centers and their communities with hazard awareness and preparation prior to a human-made or natural disaster. She has also deployed to areas to provide training in the aftermath of a disastrous event. Mejia serves as the founder of Wind of the Spirit, an immigrant resource center in Morristown, N.J. In her line of work, mental health is extremely important not only for those she educates, but also for herself.

“If we do not take care of ourselves, how do we take care of others,” Mejia said.

Simply stated. Mejia facilitates “Resiliency” training often to assist communities with mental health awareness.

"As a SERT, it is important to take care of our mental health and promote it because we work with communities that are already under high stress, and we need to support them and not become another problem," Majia said.

"We [SERTs] reach communities to promote response... promote alternatives and support and we need to be clear to do our work," Mejia said.

"You don't give what you don't have," Mejia said, "and together we are more in tune."

It is important that whether we are in this line of work or not, we focus on our mental health and wellbeing, and that we hold our employers accountable to uphold safe and healthful workplaces, as it is our right.

If your interested in training on mental health awareness and resiliency, the USWTMC offers two- to eight-hour courses at no cost to members and their communities. We also offer opioiod awareness and disaster preparedness training. Please reach out to your staff representative and contact us at [email protected] for more information.