My father passed away on Thursday, August 25th, 2022. Despite lifelong struggles with mental health and substance abuse issues, he had some amazing qualities that I am proud to have inherited. I'm so grateful that I could forgive him for my less-than-ideal childhood and that our relationship ended in a place of love, especially after the last two years of my taking on his primary caregiver responsibilities.
My father once wrote about his faith in good Samaritans, especially here in Pittsburgh, saying, "To have a stranger show such compassion and offer assistance renewed my faith in mankind." (article link in comments)
I, too, share his faith in humankind. It's why I became an organizational psychologist and why I do the work that I do.
Like my dad, I believe most people are good at heart and have the innate desire to help those in need. Certain aspects of our society (capitalism, patriarchy, racism, misguided nationalism, etc.) have made it difficult to lean into the natural disposition to go out of our way to support others, especially those who don't fall into our "in-group," those who aren't "our people."
My mission is to continue breaking down these in-group/out-group barriers and inspire people to be proactive toward making life better for others. Especially for those who need extra support due to their identity and any systemic issues they face due to belonging to a particular group.
My dad did not get the lifelong support he needed, especially concerning his mental health. He grew up as part of a generation that stigmatized therapy and the act of seeking professional help. He was socialized to "man up" and face his demons on his own, which undoubtedly contributed to the alcoholism that ended his life way too soon (he was only 70).
We live in a different world than the one my dad grew up in. Seeking support and investing in one's mental health has become more celebrated than stigmatized. We should congratulate someone when they get the psychological help they need, intentionally helping them overcome feelings of being broken or too weak to care for themselves.
DEI work and mental health go hand-in-hand, especially when considering intersections of gender, race, and socioeconomic status. Just look at the U.S. and how access to healthcare is based on money and privilege - rather than being a fundamental human right. But I digress. That is a conversation for another day.
Note: This was originally posted on LinkedIn on [date]: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/vpmattingly_diversityequityinclusion-activity-6969626461506785280-Jf9u?utm_source=share&utm_medium=member_desktop