Embracing Neurodiversity and Fostering Understanding of Mental Health Challenges

Recently I was asked to support a fundraiser event for an organization advocating for neurodiversity inclusion in the workplace. Neurodiversity, in simple terms, is the range of differences in individual brain function and behavior. Admittedly, I didn’t know much about it but I wanted to learn more. I wanted to understand what neurodiversity meant. As a business owner, I’m always looking for employable candidates. What I didn’t understand before is that many neurodivergent individuals don’t even make it past the interview phase because socially they may seem awkward or uncomfortable. It’s in our best interest to understand how working toward a more inclusive hiring process creates a stronger, more productive work environment for everybody. 

Here are some of the points I’ve learned about neurodiversity:

  • Neurodiversity recognizes everyone has unique strengths and abilities. We should be celebrating our differences and embracing other viewpoints.
  • Neurodivergent people often experience hurdles accessing healthcare, education, and employment. Talking and understanding can help break down these barriers.
  • People who are neurodivergent experience the world a little differently with sensitivities to the world around them (ie. lights, noise, etc.). Sometimes accommodations need to be made to make it all a little less overwhelming. 
  • The neurodiversity movement is about acceptance and understanding. Gone are the days of brushing issues under the rug and ignoring them. It’s time to bring this topic to the dinner table.

Employers can benefit from embracing neurodiversity and providing accommodations for their neurodivergent employees. These individuals bring a new perspective with great strengths and capabilities.

One final point to consider is that many neurodivergent individuals suffer from mental health issues. This topic is now demanding our attention more than ever before. Often overlooked and misunderstood, the root causes of mental health issues require urgent acknowledgement and action.

As a society living in the digital age, we often want quick fixes and turn to  pharmaceutical solutions for mental health challenges. I understand that medication can play a crucial role in treatment, however relying solely on pills can perpetuate the stigma surrounding mental health. My hope is that we continue as people to talk, listen and learn from each other. It can only make us better people. So while today’s message isn’t directly related to food, it is info that needs to be talked about and shared. If you have time or interest, please support this event. I’ll see you there.

-Mark Andersen, Owner

All Occasions Catering | Milwaukee, WI | Neurodiversity | Good Friend Inc.