Mental Health Awareness Month Recap

Published June 7, 2023

May was Mental Health Awareness Month, and it was highlighted at Newport News Shipbuilding through three panel discussions.

The O18 Engagement, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) Office started with an employee wellness series that featured two panel discussions on employee well-being and how stress and burnout affect mental health. The series kicked off May 1 with Employee Wellness Series Part 1: Grow Through What You Go Through and concluded May 8 with Employee Wellness Series Part 2: Well-being At Home, At Work and Everywhere. Lynise Green from QuadMed and NNS Medical Director Dr. Steven Apostoles were the guest field experts during both panel discussions.

Employee Wellness Series Part 1

Employee Wellness Series Part 1: Grow Through What You Go Through featured panelists Jason Sutton, chief information officer (CIO); Melanie McGrath, director of Production, Planning and Scheduling; Leon Reynolds, manager of Training (KSO); Janine Jones, manager of Engineering; and Alonzo Smith, manager of Process Improvement.

A practical way to demonstrate “people matter” is checking on others. You never know what someone is going through, what triggers stress and burnout for them, or how they handle mental/emotional well-being.

Employee Wellness Series Part 2

Employee Wellness Series Part 2: Well-being At Home, At Work and Everywhere featured panelists Karey Malyszko, vice president of Plant Operations; Kimberly Jordan-Dillard, Trades superintendent; Dannon Butts, director of Industrial, Mechanical, and Systems Engineering (IMSE); Porsha Wilkerson, manager of Engineering; and Thomasina Wright, program director for the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH).

Panelists discussed the importance of work-life balance and the challenges of focusing on well-being. It is everyone’s responsibility to continue conversations on mental health and wellness as change, trauma, challenges, and learned behaviors can all play significant roles in triggers that impact overall well-being. Think about what things you can do today.

AASA Panel

The African American Shipbuilders Association (AASA) employee resource group hosted a panel discussion titled “Post-Traumatic Growth: Moving from Stigma to Strength,” featuring panelists Lisa Sheppard, manager of Benefits; Terry Holbert, wellness coach; Michael Baker, designer; and Tiffany B. James, NCC, LPC of Benay’s Creative Counseling in Richmond.

Panelists discussed the stigma surrounding mental health issues and how people can help themselves and each other move past barriers to achieve immeasurable growth. Key takeaways from the discussion include:

  • The strength in mental health is when you can identify/recognize inefficiencies, get help to address concerns and set boundaries.
  • The importance of understanding family history, DNA and trauma from ancestors will allow you to gain insight on your learned behaviors.
  • Time doesn’t always heal wounds, and it is OK to get help for your healing.

Mental health awareness should be acknowledged every day and not just in the month of May. Remember to take breaks when you need to, rest and seek help if needed. Building healthy relationships and organizations require tough conversations and the application of adequate resources.