Authority Magazine
Published in

Authority Magazine

Paul A Dillon Of Dillon Consulting Services On 5 Ways That Businesses Can Help Promote The Mental Wellness Of Their Employees

An Interview With David Liu

With regard to erasing the stigma of mental illness: We need to BREAK THE SILENCE. We need to turn around the conversation in our companies that no one should be ashamed of having these pathologies. We need to reinforce in our employees that it is the weak person who hides these diseases. It is the strong person…it is the courageous person — who seeks help for these diseases, so as to not put their their families, and their communities, in jeopardy. For, it takes courage to ask for help.

As a part of my series about the “5 Ways That Businesses Can Help Promote The Mental Wellness Of Their Employees” I had the pleasure of interviewing Paul A. Dillon.

Paul A. Dillon is the president and CEO of Dillon Consulting Services LLC. He is also an Adjunct Instructor at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, where he created and teaches a graduate-level course on veterans issues. He helps to represent our nation’s veteran community on the Kennedy Forum, and serves on the Leadership Council of the Kennedy Forum Illinois.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive into our discussion, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

I have been fortunate to have been involved with the Kennedy Forum since its inception. The Kennedy Forum is a national nonprofit organization that was created by former U.S. Representative Patrick J. Kennedy in 2013 to set a new standard for the future of healthcare in theUnited States.

Its mission is to ”seek to unite the health care system, and rally the mental health community around a common set of principles: Fully implement the 2008 Parity law, bring business leaders and government agencies together to eliminate issues of stigma, work with providers to guarantee equal access to care, ensure that policymakers have the tools they need to craft better policy, and give consumers a way to understand their rights.”

As I noted, I help to represent our nation’s veteran community with this organization.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I had the privilege of moderating a panel discussion on veteran mental health issues for the Kennedy Forum Illinois that was held in Chicago in December, 2017, as a part of their “Monthly Mind Matters” series. Here’s the link to the video of that session:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXWS6pFSYUM&t=5s

What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?

Eat right….get enough sleep…and, engage in daily vigorous exercise, if you can. One other thing…try to take some time out of your day to stop and think about what you’re doing — and, where you’re going. “The unexamined life is not worth living”, Socrates said.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

Practice “servant leadership”. If you take care of your employees and customers or clients, profits will come. Don’t put profits before people.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

As stated in Scripture, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” John F. Kennedy said it this way, “For of those to whom much is given much is required.”

Either way, you get the idea.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. As you know, the collective mental health of our country is facing extreme pressure. In recent years many companies have begun offering mental health programs for their employees. For the sake of inspiring others, we would love to hear about five steps or initiatives that companies have taken to help improve or optimize their employees’ mental wellness. Can you please share a story or example for each?

As I have noted, while I am not involved in issues of mental health in the civilian population, and am not a clinician, I do represent our national veteran community on the Kennedy Forum. Basically, the issues of mental health for civilians and veterans are the same, e.g., erasing the stigma of mental illness, and providing information on mental heath parity for those who have healthcare plans from their employer.

With regard to erasing the stigma of mental illness: We need to BREAK THE SILENCE. We need to turn around the conversation in our companies that no one should be ashamed of having these pathologies. We need to reinforce in our employees that it is the weak person who hides these diseases. It is the strong person…it is the courageous person — who seeks help for these diseases, so as to not put their their families, and their communities, in jeopardy. For, it takes courage to ask for help.

With regard to mental health parity: We need to inform employees that, as noted in the Kennedy Forum’s website, “The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA or Parity Law) promised equity in the insurance coverage of mental health and substance use disorder care, but years later mental health parity is still not a reality and too many Americans continue to be denied care when they need it the most. To fulfill the promise of the Parity law, we must hold health insurance plans accountable to comply with the letter and spirit of the law.”

These ideas are wonderful, but sadly they are not yet commonplace. What strategies would you suggest to raise awareness about the importance of supporting the mental wellness of employees?

Although this is directed specifically to veteran mental health issues, I mention some of these strategies in the interview that I had on the SitRep Report on UNC-TV, the PBS station in Raleigh, NC. Here’s the link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVF26flV0nw

From your experience or research, what are different steps that each of us as individuals, as a community and as a society, can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling stressed, depressed, anxious or having other mental health issues ? Can you explain?

We know, based upon empirically derived, a posteriori, data and analyses, that mental illness, post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse and alike are not weaknesses — they are not moral failings — they are not defects. They are diseases.

They are diseases that no one should be ashamed of having…they are diseases just like cancer and diabetes are diseases. And, with proper treatment, these diseases can either be cured, or at least the symptoms alleviated.

We need to BREAK THE SILENCE. We need to turn around the conversation in our military, veteran and civilian communities that no one should be ashamed of having these pathologies. We need to reinforce in our active duty military, their families, in veterans, and in our civilian communities that it is the weak person who hides these diseases. It is the strong person…it is the courageous warrior, veteran or civilian — who seeks help for these diseases, so as to not put their fellow troops, their buddies, their families, and their communities in jeopardy. For, it takes courage to ask for help.

And, it is the work of the Kennedy Forum to break this silence in our civilian, military and veteran communities — to turn around this conversation on mental illness and related pathologies — from something to be ashamed of and hidden, to seeking treatment for these diseases that can be cured, or whose symptoms can at least be alleviated.

This might seem intuitive to you, but it will be helpful to spell it out. Can you help articulate a few ways how workplaces will benefit when they pay attention to an employee’s mental health?

The answer to that question seems rather obvious — -increased employee satisfaction and productivity, which, hopefully, leads to increased profitability.

Do you use any meditation, breathing or mind-calming practices that promote your mental wellbeing? We’d love to hear about all of them. How have they impacted your own life?

I have found that regular daily vigorous exercise — and, reserving time during the day for prayer and meditation — have all been beneficial to my mental well-being.

I work in the communications industry, so I’m particularly interested in this question. As you know, there are a variety of communication tools such as video conferencing, phone, text, and push-to-talk. What changes or improvements would you suggest for these technologies to help foster better mental health.

There is no doubt that the pandemic has greatly accelerated the use of telemedicine, including for behavioral health — a trend that I hope will continue. And, the impending implementation of the “988” number as the National Suicide Prevention Hotline will be an extremely valuable improvement in the current suicide prevention toolkit.

But, it is a non-technical issue that offers the greatest opportunity to foster better mental health in this country — and, that is the enforcement of compliance with the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which requires insurance companies to cover mental health and addiction treatment no more restrictively than physical health treatment.

A new report from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Department of the Treasury outlines this problem, and offers remedies and solutions to ensure compliance with the Parity Act.

In a recently released statement, former U.S. Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy, the founder of the Kennedy Forum, states that, “The Kennedy Forum has long advocated for stronger parity enforcement measures in both commercial health insurance and Medicaid managed care. Tools like ParityRegistry.org, ParityTrack.org, DontDenyMe.org, model state parity legislation …have helped policymakers, consumers, and providers to understand the issue and make progress on a local level.”

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I don’t think that it is necessary to start a movement. But, I do think that we have to do something to bring this country together.

We need to understand that life in this world is short — some of us who experienced combat as a 26 year old U.S. Army Reserve officer in Vietnam understand that perfectly — and, that all of these beautiful material things that we have will one day pass away…but, that love endures forever.

And, we need to realize that we are all brothers and sisters — and, that all of us have worth and merit. You learn this in the military. The whole Armed Forces are built on the “buddy system”. Nobody accomplishes the mission alone. If you’re going to be successful in the military, you need to work with all types and kinds of people, from all races, creeds, genders, backgrounds and persuasions, and weld all of these disparate interests into a fighting force that’s going to defeat the enemy. Service in the military makes you understand the concept of “teamwork” — and, each individual’s value and worth — perfectly. And, as an officer, or non-commissioned officer, you learn how to lead a team to accomplish the mission. If you can’t do this — if you can’t forge your troops into an effective fighting force — you’re mustered out of the service pretty quickly. There’s no margin for error here. There’s no second chances. This is serious business. This isn’t just about “corporate profits”. Lives are at stake.

There is much more. But, these two ideas aren’t a bad start.

What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?

They can go to my website at www.dillonconsult.com—or, follow me on my LinkedIn profile at linkedin.com/in/dillonconsult

Finally, they can email me at paul@dillonconsult.com

Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

--

--

--

In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Recommended from Medium

How to Cope When Debt Damages Your Mental Health

Maintaining Well-Being During Times of Uncertainty

Trauma can break things inside of you…

THE ELOPEMENT

Where Do We Go From Here?

Cycles of Anxiety

11 Ways to Defy Your Depression with Humor

3 Things I Learnt From My Burnout.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
David Liu

David Liu

David is the founder and CEO of Deltapath, a unified communications company that liberates organizations from the barriers of effective communication

More from Medium

The Doctor Gave Up Hope. No One Expected What Happened Next

3 Reasons Why You Should Explore a New Town, City or Country

How Bladder Cancer Changed My Work Life

About Me — Anna Vocino