Mental Health and My Team/Place of Work

Group of people sitting at table in a collaborative space with post-it notes on a white board and laptops on the table. All looking at a larger computer screen with contemplation.

Welcome back to part two of this series! This week we expand the scope of our focus only marginally to the role of mental health with our teams, coworkers, and peers - think of the individuals who make up your most frequent workplace interactions. 

Each of us brings a set of experiences influencing how we view, define, and navigate mental health. The good news is that many have open and positive attitudes about mental health. At the same time, mental health remains a top concern since the turn of the decade as our communities experience a severe shortage of appropriate professionals. This is likely to reach our teams in a dual wave of impact:

  • First, external. Members of the community are likely to arrive at our (virtual or physical) door needing or wanting help, for themselves or a loved one, that is best provided by appropriately trained mental health professionals. There are few mental health professionals available plus resources and capacity are often too limited to provide appropriate tools to direct-service and administrative staff for effective intervention during these moments.
  • Second, internal. Our teams are at increased risk for experiencing burnout within a highly relational environment where the risk of vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue is real. Much of our work is often part of a safety net for youth in our communities where individuals in our teams are juggling demanding caseloads, unreasonably tight budgets, and a culture that could be described as service-above-collaboration - in combination, all of this can become overwhelming and altogether detrimental to the mental health and well-being of our teams.

This week, set aside 15 minutes and answer the prompts below (download a PDF copy here). 

  • My big why statement. In a sentence or two, answer “What brings me to this work?” Do this a total of five times. Your answers don’t need to make sense to anyone other than yourself. Once you have your 5-10 sentences, review and look for patterns in your answers. Then combine these into a single big why statement.
  • Bridges and barriers to meeting your big why. Take a few moments to write what you need in order to experience your big why to the fullest extent possible and a separate list of things that interrupt your big why. You might find it useful to separate these lists into two categories: internal (at work)  and external (outside of work). 

Consider sharing some of these bridges and barriers with members of your team with the intention of strengthening how you show up for each other. Feel free to share your answers and send your thoughts to

This toolkit was released as a newsletter series in May 2023. Learn more about new training and funding opportunities, news and policy updates, and how we can collectively strengthen outcomes for youth and young adults. Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest delivered straight to your inbox.