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May 8, 2014

I’m not myself today

Campaign puts spotlight on mental health in the workplace

By Todd Humber

I’m feeling anxious today. I really can’t put my finger on the reason why, but it happens from time to time.

The only difference is that, today, I’m wearing a button proclaiming it to the world. I didn’t plan on being anxious when I woke up. And it’s not something I’m bragging about, it’s just… how I’m feeling on the morning of May 8, and my employer — Carswell — is participating in the Not Myself Today campaign, which is supported by Partners for Mental Health.

A big part of the campaign are the stickers and buttons that employees wear to proclaim their moods. They run the gamut of human emotions — from upbeat and happy to downright miserable.

It’s great to be a part of a workplace where we can have these conversations. Not everybody feels great and positive all the time — just like a bad hair day there are bad mood days. It’s often impossible to peg why they’re happening, but it’s important to spread the word that it’s OK to feel this way and it’s OK to talk about it.

I’ve worked in workplaces — such as my time on the assembly line at Chrysler building minivans when I was in university — where it would have been unheard of to have these conversations. You needed to “suck it up” and “man up.”

I have trouble envisioning my father, an auto executive, wearing a button at work in the 1960s or 1970s proclaiming that he was either upbeat or irritated.

The announcement sent to Carswell employees was clear about the point of the campaign. “Wear your sticker proudly — the goal is to show and accept that we don’t always feel great every day, and that’s OK.”

From an HR standpoint, mental health is a huge topic. It can’t be the elephant in the room anymore — the cost to employers from a productivity standpoint is far too big to ignore. According to the Not Myself Today campaign, 500,000 Canadians miss work every day because of mental health.

That’s one of the reasons a Psychological Safety Award was added this year as part of the annual Canada’s Safest Employers awards put on by our sister publication, Canadian Occupational Safety. Nominations for that award are open until June 2. If your firm is doing something successful or innovative when it comes to addressing mental health in the workplace, I would encourage you to apply for this prestigious award.

The more we can talk about mental health in the workplace, both the good and the bad, the better off we will be — both as individuals and organizations. I’m already feeling less anxious than I did when I started writing this column — just acknowledging an emotion can go a long way to easing its effects.

So, I can say it one more time: “I’m not myself today.” But that’s OK.

How are you feeling?

Todd Humber is the managing editor of Canadian HR Reporter, the national journal of human resource management. He can be reached at or visit for more information.

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I’m not myself today
Monday, July 14, 2014 7:16:00 PM by Sara Burke
It would be amazing if this was implemented in the United States. I can't tell you how many times my work has suffered because I've felt anxious or depressed but didn't feel like I could say anything about it. And it seems as though our companies care more about their output than about the mental health of their employees who contribute to that output. I'm starting an HR Management degree program next month, and I hope to eventually join a company where I can encourage participation in the Not Myself Today campaign.