When you turn to pg. 52 in this month’s issue, you are going to read a story that you may not expect to find in a business publication such as Lawn & Landscape.
Every once in a while, though, we try to include stories that make you think, even if they do not directly apply to the day-to-day operations of a landscaping or lawn care company.
This month, Joe Kujawa, vice president of Kujawa Enterprises, a landscaping company based in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, wrote about the suicide of his son, Jack.
Instead of hiding what is considered a taboo subject, the Kujawas are sharing their experience in hopes it will help someone else.
Yes, it’s a raw story from still-grieving parents, but it also gives a practical look at what life is like having a family member struggling with depression.
Aside from Joe working in the industry, what does depression have to do with landscaping?
While I hate stereotypes, I’m going to make one here. This industry is mostly made up of males. And if stereotypes hold true, us males don’t really like to talk about feelings, or especially anything that could be perceived as being weak.
By coincidence, May is mental health month, so now is the perfect time to squash those stereotypes.
Whether you are running a landscaping business or work as an employee in the field or in the office, the daily grind can cause days, weeks, maybe months where failure sometimes outweighs success.
But there’s no shame in talking to someone, whether it’s a family member, friend or professional about stress or other aspects of mental health. If your business is doing well and you still don’t feel right, it’s time to think about why you feel the way you do and maybe even take action toward getting some help.
I want to thank Joe and his wife, Patty, for sharing such a difficult story with our audience. I hope after you read about Jack, it helps you have what might be an uncomfortable conversation about your own mental health, or that of a family member or friend’s.
If you are interested in helping fight this disease, Joe and Patty have setup the Jack Kujawa Endowment for Mental Health Awareness with the purpose of developing programs and other initiatives to educate and support teens’ mental health issues. To donate, please visit: bit.ly/kujawa.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 and you can learn more about mental health at nami.org. – Brian Horn