October 19, 2022

Mental Health In The Workplace

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Episode Highlights

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Hirewell is partnering with some experienced industry leaders in the Mental Health and Professional Leadership space to host the first-ever webinar session on “Mental Health in the Workplace.”

We discuss responsibility and ownership of mental health on a personal level, on a corporate level, and how to support and empower ourselves long-term.

With Hirewell’s Jill Dreisilker (Recruiter and Certified Health Coach) as our host, we welcome our panelists Dr. Erica J. Spitale (Licensed Clinical Psychologist), Jenna Quinn Lancor (Licensed Clinical Social Worker), and Dr. Stacey Diane A. Litam (Licensed Clinical Counselor and DEIB Educator).

Episode Transcript

Well hello everybody. Thank you all so much for joining. We might have a few other people trickling in. But we’re very excited for this topic. Today is something that is much needed and of course is not going away anytime soon. So how we’re going to set up today is of course- well actually, let me introduce myself.

So my name’s Jill. I am a recruiter here at Hirewell and for- there I am. Thanks Robyn. We also have Robyn from Hirewell on here. She is making all of this happen in the back end. So thanks Robyn. And I’ll introduce our panelists in a second. But for those who might not know, Hirewell, we are a recruiting company based here in Chicago, but we are fully remote. So we have talent from all over.

And we help with any sort of recruiting engagements. We have practice leads like sales and marketing and HR and tech, you name it. And so we partner with different companies all over. And then on the other side of that, Hirewell is an amazing place where we can actually create

events like this and share the knowledge that we have because of course, even then a fully remote- as a fully remote company. And I’m sure plenty of other people working remote. A lot of mental health challenges come up. And of course with the pandemic and everything, a lot of that residual stuff is kind of impacts us in different ways and at different times.

So with all of that being said, we’re so excited to be hosting this panel today just to talk about mental health in the workplace and how to have those challenging conversations, how to know what you need in order to ask for that. And of course we get to hear from all of our experts today. So about further ado, I am very excited to introduce and I’ll just go

on my screen here. So our first panelist is Stacy. So Stacy, I’d love for you to hop on really quick, just briefly introduce yourself. And I would love for all of the panelists, just a really brief few sentences about what about this topic has you here today. Like why are you here?

Why is this so important? We’d love to hear from you. So take it away, Stacy. Great. Thank you Jill. And thank you all for taking time out of your very busy to join us to talk about mental health and why it’s important in the workplace. So for me, the reason why I’m so excited and passionate about this topic is because we’re starting this with this really interesting transition where mental health discussions are being destigmatized and we’re talking more about this not just in the workplace, but also within BIPOC communities.

So I’m really excited to dive right in and talk about why this is important and how we can engage in intentional self nourishment. Awesome. Thanks Stacy and Erica. Hi. Yes to echo Stacy’s sentiment, thank you all for being here. Erica J Spitale, licensed clinical psychologist and head of talent and leadership development at EmployBridge.

For me, you know, I firmly believe we can’t change what we don’t discuss. And so we really have to be able to articulate what needs to change in order to make that change happen and that’s the only way we make progress. And I’ve been committed to this change we’ve needed to see for over 10 years, and I’m excited to keep the conversation going.

Amazing. I love that. Can’t change what we don’t talk about or what we don’t acknowledge. Amazing. All right, and last but not least, Jenna. Hi everyone. Thank you all for being here. So I’m Jenna Quinn Lancor. I’m the founder of Head First Health. And at Head first it is our mission to help millennial women going through life transitions,

those experiencing OCD, anxiety, eating disorders. And the reason I am here today and so excited to talk to you all is because I believe that mental health is the most important aspect of our health. So even in our name head first, we believe in all aspects of health but really prioritizing our mental wellbeing.

So I’m excited that we are able to talk about it and how it relates to the workplace because we spend most of our waking hours at work. So to be able to combine these two topics is really exciting. Amazing. Thanks everyone.

Alright. Appreciate that. All right. So we are going to kick things off with a quick little poll. Would just love to know just how is everyone feeling today? We’ll get this, the other ones answered in a little bit later.

All right. Awesome. Okay. And the point of that, the intention of that is, to all of our panelists point is checking in with ourselves regularly and making that a habit is just a really great way to understand our needs. So like what Erica said, we can’t change what we don’t talk about or what we don’t acknowledge.

So knowing and just making that a just a regular thing and with work and all of our boundaries kind of blended together, it’s easy to find ourselves in autopilot and so regular check-ins is just helping us to be proactive with self care and self nourishment, like what Stacy mentioned as well.

And it’s just a really great way just to keep in touch and make that a habit so that we know what we need, we can have a better idea what we need so that we ask for it. All right, so opening it up to the panel, and I know Stacy, you also talked on this a little bit but just following up to what I was just mentioning- So staying committed to

personal care and mental health can be challenging, especially in this day and age where people working from home and all of that stress and additional things just going on in the world and life and everything. It’s just, it’s a lot. It’s a lot. So how does, or how would self care or self nourishment- I love the word you use self nourishment.

How does that work for someone who is always on or people that are just always busy and we know we need to prioritize mental health, but it’s just we “don’t have time”. So how would you- how does self nourishment work for people who are always on? This is such a good question, especially now as many of us are transitioning to remote or even hybrid workplaces.

These expectations to be involved in things like work hangouts, and, and answering emails at all times of day can really suck out, our abilities to be happy, whole and well. And so first, and I want to talk about what self nourishment is. When we think about self care, we’re often exposed to this packaging of, if you do this thing, you will be better.

If you get this massage, eat this food, engage in this activity, you’re going to feel better automatically. But just not the way wellness is. Wellness and mental health is not a dichotomous variable. It’s not mental illness and mental health. We have mental wellness as a spectrum and on some days and throughout moments of the day, we might feel more or less mentally well.

So self nourishment comes in as this intentional mode of wellbeing that gives us permission to do what we need as individual people That require unique aspects of our mental health. And so for some folks that self nourishment might be checking in with family throughout the day. It might be getting the right amount of sleep.

It might be engaging in a specific activity throughout the week, but it gives us permission to set boundaries for ourselves. And I always ask myself, if I say yes to this, am I saying no to myself? And that’s a really great exercise and boundary setting for those of us who often feel like we have to be on in the workplace.

If I say yes to this, am I saying no to myself? Ooh, that’s a good one. I think that if I say yes to this, am I saying no to myself. Ooh, that’s a- I like that one. That’s a nice little filter, especially with work and taking on more projects or even outside of work, you know, taking on more things if you feel the need to say yes are you saying something, are you denying yourself something?

I think that’s really, that’s really important. Anyone else from our panel want to chime in on self nourishment or Jenn and Erika, would love to know what your- maybe like what your experience is with self nourishment and maybe picking back off of Stacy of how we can prioritize that, especially if we might be working through like people pleasing and saying yes and having a hard time saying no.

But what’s your, what’s your experience with self nourishment and how to prioritize that when we’re always go, go, go. I’ll just quickly add just to plus one what Stacy said, but also add, you know, you asked about being always on. In my mind spoil alert, like that doesn’t work. We’re not a Lyft app.

We should not be on or available to anyone or anything 24/7. It’s not sustainable and it’s absolutely not conducive to our mental health. And burnout is real. But so are boundaries. And so a big part of my self-care regimen is about leaning into my boundaries to make sure that I bring them to the front and center in my interactions with my colleagues at work, with my family and friends.

And I like to say that I’m an equal opportunist, so everybody’s getting my boundaries. And also my two favorite responses are, “No” and “Not at this time”. Granted my experience with saying no, especially in the workplace has absolutely been a journey for sure. But through practice and really leaning into the discomfort that sometimes can come with saying no to people and to things, you get better at discerning when it’s really necessary to respond in that way for the betterment of your wellbeing.

And so we really just owe ourselves protection. We owe ourselves humanity and we certainly owe ourselves boundaries. Yeah, absolutely. I feel like boundaries can be a whole other, a whole other topic. And I’m pretty sure I posted events on just boundaries along before, so definitely really important.

Because it’s one of those things like we talk about and we kind of understand it, but setting boundaries and communicating boundaries it’s a whole other thing, but at least just recognizing what you need and maybe like where those boundaries can be in places is a great, great start.

And then Jenna, I’m sure with you like running your own business and taking care of people, I love watching your team grow. What are some other ways that you, as a business owner yourself, are prioritizing self nourishment when things get a little bit crazy?

Yeah, that’s an excellent question. So I think, and even when I meet with my clients, like this is one of the biggest topics that we talk about, is that work life balance.

And a lot of my clients are very high achieving, working in corporate. And oftentimes I think a conversation veers into what are our values. So so being able to identify like, if my job- if I really, really value it and it’s really important to me to do an excellent job. Or they will say, like always beyond.

It’s like, how do we then find that balance? Because some jobs do demand that. Demand kind of always being on. And I know now, right as a business owner, my job demands that of me too. And I do feel like there’s a lot of times where I have to be on. And so being able to validate that right for my clients of, “Okay. This really matters to you and this is something that you feel like you have to kind of run on all cylinders.”

Having that conversation of can we lower that expectation just a little bit because as Erika and Stacy as you all were saying, not even a computer runs on all the time. So can we take some rest? And then, if we decide- right, because we make that decision. Like I’m making the decision to be on, or I’m making the decision to have this role that requires so much of me. Then we also have to make the decision of what do we do when we’re not in that role so that we really can refill our cup and replenish ourselves so that we’re not feeling so depleted and then we’re not having those feelings of resentment and burnout.

So I always say, if you are going to agree to be on and run at full capacity, you just created like a second job for yourself, which is that self-care, self nourishment of looking at like, all right, then how do I refill? Because I really, really do want to show up in full capacity the following day.

I love that. Yeah, I think that’s, that’s very interesting. It’s a decision to be on all the time. Yeah. And I think especially with values and for those who don’t know my past life I was also a health and a life coach and career coach. I did coaching for a while and that was always something, no matter what challenge anyone came to about work life balance and how do I prioritize?

I know I need to be doing these things and you know, sometimes it just comes back to values. What’s most important in your life? What do you value? If you value time with loved ones and you know rest and taking care of yourself, well what are you doing now that goes against that? So I think that’s always important to get back to what’s important to you.

Amazing. And so in addition to kind of that whole conversation about how to just stay mindful of self nourishment no matter what capacity is or environments we might be in- and I love it, Stacy says, mental wellness, it fluctuates, right? It fluctuates even throughout the day.

And so something that of course is really important to mention as well, Erica and Stacy- so with that, so how do you stay mindful of self nourishment when you occupy spaces with marginalized identities or environments that might not allow for self nourishment? Would love to hear from you two about that.

I can start. Yeah, no, I think it’s a fantastic question and one that we’ve been asking I think for quite a long time and- but it can be challenging for sure. For me, my identity as a black woman is an essential part of who I am and how I show up in this world. And when I think about the workplace, there is an emotional tax that comes with being a black woman in corporate America that can be very exhausting and lead to the burnout that I mentioned earlier.

But I also want to mention that I fully recognize the privilege I do have because of the level I’m at in my career as a leader in my organization. But I think that privilege, but also the acknowledgement and the recognition of my identity is also why it makes it more imperative that as a black woman leader in the organization, I owe it to myself and my team to be intentional about where I spend my time and what I say yes to and what I say no to.

And I always say I love what I do but I don’t love it more than my family. I don’t love it more than my friends, and I certainly don’t love it more than I love myself. And that’s okay. And I’m still great at my job and I’m still very productive. One last thing I’ll say is something I recently heard from the CEO of Diverse and engaged DC Marshall, that deeply resonated with me.

And she said, “You want to give to yourself, give yourself to you before you give yourself away to others.” And that really made me think about how I’ve approached proactively managing my mental health with what I like to call the three A’s, which are awareness, acknowledgement, and adjustment. And so just a quick example, six months ago I instituted Silent Mondays for myself, where every Monday I prioritize deep thinking and creativity over meetings.

And for me, that’s significantly helpful because I get to pour into myself before I give myself to others, knowing that the rest of the week will be filled with back to back interactions with other people. And so this was my way of acknowledging that I can control burnout too, and that I can be the cause of my own burnout,

to Jenna’s point earlier about, that’s a decision to be on all the time. And so I need to honor myself more and the control I do have by centering my wellbeing before anything or anyone else. Ooh. I wish I could just document everything that you just said and just write it out as a reminder. I think that’s amazing.

I love that. And the prioritizing creativity and the stuff that replenishes you and fills you up and refuels you, I think is so important as a balance in setting boundaries and communicating that with your teammates and like, “Hey, I need, I need this time.” I think that that’s wonderful.

And just recognizing to pour into yourself, give to yourself first before you can give to others. Amazing. Stacy, anything else to add there? Yes, absolutely. And so when I think about some ways that I’m intentional in engaging in self nourishment as someone who occupies a space with a queer Asian American immigrant identity, we have to remember that a lot of the boundary setting and permission giving that we have to allow ourselves to embody, can really

push up against cultural, racial, and ethnic barriers and cultural scripts that we’ve learned from our family of origin, from religious communities and from intergenerational messages. And so recognizing that it might take time to unlearn those cultural scripts that will allow you to say no, that will allow you to set bounds and I will allow you to engage in your own rest.

Remember that rest is a radical act of resistance. And we don’t have to choose to respond every time we are around microaggressions or oppression in the workplace. It’s okay to say,” I’m going to put a pin in that. Maybe I’ll circle back. Maybe I won’t. I don’t have to be this spokesperson for every act of oppression that happens around me that impacts one or more of our identities.”

So being intentional in the responses that we do have and remember that it’s okay to set boundaries and that unlearning these cultural scripts take time. Baby steps are still steps. And just being intentional in what we respond to is a really great way to, as Erica says, pour into ourselves. Amazing.

Yeah, I think that’s- and I know we talked about this before, but this alone could be this topic alone, could be a whole other, next webinar, maybe a speaker series. But yeah, I think that’s just really important as a reminder, like these things, they take time, right? No matter what these boundaries and unlearning past experiences or pre-program beliefs and things like that, it takes time. But stay committed to yourself and circling back to your why, why you’re doing this work, why this is so important, can really help to stay on track there. Amazing. Thanks ladies. Alright. So I know that we already, we already shared all of the polls at once for today.

But we wanted to shift gears a little bit more into, so we talked a lot about our personal self, right? And how to prioritize that no matter what the challenges are, how to stay committed, how to self nourish and how that might look like in different capacities. And so really kind of shifting more into, because of course we have our responsibility, right?

We are responsible for ourselves first. In fact, there’s not much in the world we can control besides ourselves. I need that reminder more often than not. But of course there’s the other component of our companies and our leaders in the businesses and corporations that do also have a responsibility as well.

And just recognizing where’s that line? It can be pretty hard to navigate that and navigate that space because we just don’t know, right? So once we understand more about ourselves and what we need, then we can learn to have those conversations with our employers or with leadership to figure out what else that we need.

And so poll question number two was do you have sufficient mental health support at your workplace? So let’s see. So we have- majority people say yes. That’s amazing. Then we have about 30% kind of. 26% no, and then the least amount unsure. Those are some pretty good numbers there.

The intention of that is of course like sufficient mental health support. So that doesn’t necessarily have to mean like benefits or things like that. It’s just, do you have a safe space that you can go to and express these things or express concerns? Or do you know who to ask on your team leadership?

But just knowing that you have that support is great. Great to hear there. And with that, so of course we touched on this a little bit before too, but with mental health in the workplace becoming a top priority- I mean, Jenna mentioned with her clients work life balance is always a topic.

And it’s not going anywhere anytime soon, especially post pandemic. Even as a recruiter myself, when I ask candidates “What has you looking for a job now?” So many people still continue to say balance and work life balance or mental health, resources, all of that.

So it’s definitely really important. And companies are starting to listen, right? I can talk about Hirewell for days on the mental health support that we receive and those resources and benefits. But companies are still starting to pick up slowly but surely.

But I think we’re getting to a place now where having these conversations is not a surprise. So for the panel, I would love to hear like, what do you think has shifted. Or even like, why do you feel that companies are caring more? Why do they feel that this is important and what do you think has shifted?

Stacy, want to kick that off? Well, I think that our society is more lonely than ever before. There was an ipso studies that reported that two and five people globally feel more lonely following 2021. We also know that loneliness, which is a subjective experience of not feeling disconnected, could be not feeling connected,

it’s a huge predictor of premature deaths and a number of health risks. However, just having one best friend in the workplace significantly reduces that risk and is huge protective factor for wellbeing. So we know that mental health distress and loneliness combine in ways that negatively impact innovation, negatively impact creativity, and also our linked to things like job retention, work issues, and other kinds of stressors in the workplace.

And so we know that on average, it takes a company six to nine months of an employee’s salary to replace them after they quit their job. So let’s say an employee’s making $60,000 a year, that means the company has to now spend between 30,000 and 45,000 to recruit and train the next person. So we’re seeing a higher rate of quitting these days.

And so I think it would behoove companies to really focus in on this. A lot of the loneliness and mental health distress can be negative, impacting the bottom line and the financial issues of the companies. Yeah. I think oh my gosh, that’s another thing I want to take all of that information in those studies.

I think that’s really important to note. Just having that connection, right? That’s a basic human need. Basic human need is connection, one of them. And not having that, especially in remote for people that work remote, we’re in our own bubbles and we are only bouncing thoughts off of ourselves.

And if we don’t have those the strength or the mental health or the wellness for that, it can create a lot of stress, leading to disconnection or quitting. So I think by companies recognizing that and investing in their employees and just prioritizing that, I think that can come with like mentorships or things like that.

But Jenna, I would love to hear from you as well on what are some ways that with companies taking responsibility, what are some practices, types of benefits that you have discussed or maybe that you’ve implemented for some of your employees or that you’ve heard about just from companies taking more responsibility?

One of the reasons I started Head First Health was just because of what I experienced when I worked at other facilities and hospitals, other group practices and just kind of taking note of what’s going well and what’s not going well. And I vowed, when I start my own practice, that I’m really going to create an environment that

I want to be in because I am in it, right? And so I feel like my job is really to allow my clinicians to have like the best environment and the best life possible, right? Of what’s in my control. And so I believe that if we take care of our employees, they’ll take care of the clients. So I always say like my number one priority actually is my clinicians.

And if they feel good, then I know that’s going to translate into being able to care for their clients. And so I think a lot of workplaces are catching onto that because when I do meet with my clients, they don’t discuss difficulties with salary, compensation. They come to me because they’re dissatisfied with the culture and they feel like they’re not valued.

And so I think because now we’re prioritizing our mental wellbeing and we’re seeing this is imperative for me to have. It’s not just an add-on, right? It’s like something that actually needs to be had in the culture. And then we’re brave enough to voice that. So even this conversation today, right? Having that courage to have that real conversation of this is necessary. I think that’s forcing in a way for companies to listen and to be able to adjust the culture and ensure that it’s really enhancing, enhancing everyone’s lives, right? Like not, this is just a job. But this is something that’s going to add to your life. Yeah. Yeah. And that brings me back to what Erica had said before, like I love what I do, but I don’t love it more than myself or my family, or things like that.

And I think like with companies like slowly prioritizing this, it can look different. It can look different for everyone. And so with that, would love to open it up to the panel as well is, trying to figure out this line between like our personal responsibility and taking care of ourselves and setting those boundaries

but kind of circling back to that original question of what’s shifted or why should companies care? But what do you think from just kind of your own experience, Jenna, as a business owner or with the rest of the panel as well, is why is that important for companies to take care?

So kind of just piggybacking off of what you said, you invest in your employees. Where’s the responsibility of the companies? Where does that kind of come into play?

Would you like me to go? Yeah, if you want to kick it out because you were just talking about it. Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. So I think and kind of to add to the previous question of there are many things that a company can do to take care of their employees. This is going to vary though, company by company and also what the employee’s needs are.

So I think the biggest thing is creating that safe space where people feel listened to. So that when, again, in my experience with my clinicians come to me, I am so honored that they feel safe enough to say like, “Hey, this is what I’m needing” or “Can we shift this?” and then having that conversation.

And so even today- today being like, this is a conversation and so we’re able to discuss like, these are my needs. And then how can the company meet me in the middle here? So I think first and foremost is knowing like what are the small little tweaks that I want to make?

And then what are the expectations I have for my job, for the company to make for me as well. So I think being able to even just sit down and I encourage my clients to do this. Like just sit down and make a list of what are some things that are in my control? And then what are some things that I want to be adjusted when I talk to my manager or my supervisor

so that we can kind of then brainstorm okay, how can we begin that conversation? Yeah, I think that’s just kind of circling back to the intention for all of this, is identifying what we need first so that we can ask our employers or find a safe space for that.

And I love that. Sit down and make a list, right? Just list out what you need. It could be like a dream mental health benefits list or whatever that looks like. And I love the part of circling it back to that line of where the responsibilities are and depending on the company and the needs and their resources, where can you meet them in the middle?

I think that’s really important of course, to identify what you need first. And so this kind of- this question came up with that. So with people in general, when you said create a safe space for companies like where people feel listened and acknowledged, how would you-

this is for everyone. How would you recommend if people don’t feel that they have a safe space to go to, or if they don’t have someone or they’re just not sure, or they might not be in a company that is really open to mental health- what would you recommend for those people who just don’t have that safe space or they’re unsure of where that safe space might need?

I mean, I think the first thing I think about is, hopefully to your point, if it’s not safe enough to have open dialogue, that the company at a minimum has deployed some sort of confidential channel where employees can voice more vocally but privately their needs and desires. And so something like surveys where you’re checking in with the organization with a regular cadence to see how their experience is going in and out of the workplace.

So if safety is truly a concern, I think at a minimum, if you’re a company that is offering those type of privatized channels, leveraging those and leaning into those to be able to speak up. I mean, I think the other thing that comes to mind, but I fully recognize that this comes with extreme privilege, is really thinking deeply if this is the space in place for you to be.

If you do have the luxury of choice, then really being honest with yourself if you need to make a different decision. And what that decision needs to be. Yeah, that’s a tough one. That’s a tough one. Definitely been in that place before where it’s challenging, and especially if you enjoy the work, but if it’s just not conducive to what you need. But I appreciate you recognizing, that that’s not everyone has a luxury of being able to choose that. But at least you can start to think about it, and maybe take time to seek out different companies or even industries that might prioritize that a little bit better so you do have that safe space. And then that also goes back to what’s the most important, if that is super, super important to you and it impacts you on a daily basis, you have to figure out what are your values, right? We spend every day working, right? And if our mental health is suffering, then we have to find- make some changes, take some action there.

So I appreciate that. Okay. So does anyone else have anything else to add there just about how, if people might not have the same space, what you might recommend for them and how to seek that or figure out how to ask for what they need? Well, I think this is a very difficult conversation and I so appreciate Erica’s mention that it is a privilege to be able to say, “Well, perhaps I’m navigating a space

that doesn’t really accommodate or value who I am or what I think is important, which could be my mental health, which could be one or more my intersecting identities.” And it is also possible that when we’re in those places where we feel a little bit stuck, we can still supplement, we can outsource, we can build relationships, we can build friendships and cultivate a community that’s both including members of your workplace and also out of the workplace where you can have these discussions and label your emotions and validate the experiences of feeling unheard, unseen, and unimportant.

And we know, we know deep in our bones at a visceral level that to be seen, to be heard, to be valued, these are important parts of who we are as social herd animals, right? I would love to see how many of you attendees have watched Avatar, not the air bender version, like the Blue Cats version, because this was a blockbuster hit.

And James Cameron was once interviewed as to why he thought much Avatar ended up being so successful and he mentioned the Na’vi language, which was the language that the Avatar spoke. And the greeting, if you remember the greeting that the Na’vi communicated every time they left or joined presence was, “I see you”. And the reason why

we think Avatar was a great success across age, across culture, against region was because it communicates an emblematic part of being a social person in the world to be seen, to be heard, to be valued. These were important parts that make us feel happy, healthy, and whole. And if we don’t have a workplace or an environment that honors these parts of ourselves, we’re just not going to be happy.

We’re not going to be mentally well. So whether that means finding spaces, finding people that see you maybe out of the workplace, maybe cultivating your community of folks who see you in other areas, we can absolutely supplement. We can absolutely outsource in those areas too. So I empower you, I invite you to think about who is it that when you are with them, you feel seen and do more of that. Spend more time with those people because they’re the ones that are going to help kind of heal that heart space that you might not be getting in the workplace.

I love that. I actually didn’t know- I love the movie Avatar, but I forgot about that part. I see you. I think that’s so powerful. Oh my goodness. And every level kind of gives me goosebumps a little bit because that’s- even in communication and brief conversations, you know, and especially in this day and age where people are on their phones all the time in laptops and we’re missing out on being seen and feeling seen and feeling heard.

And especially with acknowledging our needs in the workplace. And if we don’t- I appreciate you sharing that. If we don’t have that safe space, outsource that to find out what you need. It doesn’t have to necessarily just be in the workplace. Unfortunately, you might have to get a little bit creative on what that might look like.

But again, just prioritizing yourself and what you need and just building those connections because you never know. You never know. Maybe that person you connect with has a really great job for you. You never know. But I really do appreciate that. I see you. I see you. I love that. So with that, just kind of piggybacking off of that, how would you say-

and this can just kind of be brief, but maybe like a few tips. How would you initiate that conversation about asking for things that your company might not provide or just what’s the best way to approach that conversation, whether you might have your resources or if you recognize something that can be improved?

I know like maternity leave and like paternity leave and things like that are definitely kind of coming to the surface. But those are just a few brief examples. But how would you, what do you recommend for people that you know, what’s the best way to approach these challenging conversations about asking for what you need in the workplace?

Yeah, I think that’s really tricky. Again, because we talked about like safety right and trust. And I love how Stacy mentioned earlier around kind of unraveling cultural scripts and so depending on how you identify, speaking up may not even be a norm for you. It may not be right, something that you are accustomed to.

And so I think kind of, I kind of want to pivot back because I think we started with personal responsibility, but I want to kind of put the onus back on the company for a second because if I’m running a company or I’m owning a business, I think I should be regularly asking how do my employees become better by being here?

Like I should regularly be asking myself that. And I should know what that journey looks like and what that feeling feels like. Right? And if I don’t, then I’ve got some work to do. So I think it’s part, yes, employee hopefully feeling safe and comfortable to speak up, but it’s also me, business owner, CEO, et cetera, regularly checking in and doing my due diligence to ensure that what I think is happening is actually happening.

The experience I think I’m designing is actually coming to fruition. I kind of want to help us marry the two a little and put some of that back on the company. And back to Jenna and Stacy’s point, like support

psychological safety and emotional inclusion is the company’s responsibility, right? And so having the presence of those three, or the lack thereof is a huge indication, right, and factor into their employee’s mental health. And at the end of the day, all of us should be able to work and be healthy without having to compromise.

And so I just wanted to kind of like kick us off there just to make sure we’re not leaving more onus on the company, on the table. I think yes. Thank you for mentioning that. I think that’s really important. And just to, because I want to take notes for this. So you said psychological safety and what was, what was the other thing you mentioned that? So poor psychological safety and emotional inclusion. Got it. Okay. Yes. Emotional inclusion, that’s- yes. . Yeah, I think that that’s really important. That’s a nice, I feel like a good kind of line to kind of draw where there’s only so much that you can do for yourself, but their company has to create that space for that psychological safety and emotional inclusion.

Wonderful. Okay. Anything else to add, Jenna and Stacy,

just about how to like start those conversations or what’s the best way to approach those conversations, asking for what you need?

I will just say I agree with what Erica’s saying to remember that there’s two in this dynamic. And so I always say, who has the power also has the responsibility. So if you are manager, supervisor, CEO, right, like you have so much power and how are you using that power, right? And so if you’re just using that power and just thinking about yourself or thinking about the bottom line, what is that going to do to you and to the people working with you?

And so to be able to say like okay, I have this power to enhance everyone’s lives and that means that I do have to approach them and not just wait to be approached. Definitely, definitely. Wonderful. With the conversation of that responsibility and taking care of ourself and figuring out what that line is with our employers, still advocating for ourselves is no matter what the company might provide, advocating for ourselves is still, that’s not going anywhere.

That’s the muscle that we probably will have to continue to flex and strengthen. Of course, hopefully more companies kind of catch on and at least creating those safe spaces. But outside of that, continuing to kind of going back to our first question and about self nourishment and prioritizing ourselves and we talked a lot about what that might look like in a corporate setting.

But what can you do, or how can you commit to advocating for your own mental health and what you’re doing for yourself outside of a corporate setting? So what are you doing for yourself? I love- Stacy, I think I’m stealing this forever, but what are you doing for yourself to feel happy, healthy, and whole?

What can you commit to? What is that? How can you commit to advocating for yourself outside of the workplace? Stacy, I’ll bump that to you since I love your how to feel happy, healthy, whole. Yeah, I’m so glad that resonated. So the first thing that I just have to say, and this has been sitting with me throughout the panel, is I don’t believe in safe spaces.

If every space is safe, then no place is safe. And we can never guarantee that our words, our values and our identities are going to be held with safety and respect. And so I encourage folks to create brave spaces, to be courageous, to have these conversations where our ideas, our values, and who we are might not be accepted or celebrated or seen.

And so we just have to be, again, courageous to create these brave spaces that we are deserving of. When I think about what we can do to be intentional to be happy, healthy, whole and well, there are two things that come to mind. The first of which is to engage in intentional discussions that cultivate community.

So I love this question. I value it because you can ask it to the same person every week, every day, and have a totally different response. Mm-hmm. This question is, “If you really knew me today, you would know” so for me, for instance, if you really knew me today, you would know that I’m struggling a little bit to focus on productivity and research because I have a 14 month old son and it’s hard for me to pull time away from him.

But again, that question that checking in, not checking up is a really good way to cultivate community and to create those brave relationships and those brave spaces. The second thing that I think a lot about is what is your keystone? So for those of you who knew this about me, I used to live in Rome and architecture in Europe is truly phenomenal.

And one thing that I love about it are these beautiful arches that hold up the entire duomo or cathedral we’re building. And the entire building really sits on the integrity of this arch. And the way these arches are created, are you take these blocks and you go around, around, around, around, around.

And the one you do last that holds the whole arch in place is called the keystone. And so I think about that in a wellness perspective. What is our keystone? What is your keystone? What is the specific objective, measurable thing you do every day that when you do this one thing, everything else stands in its place, everything else holds together a little bit better?

So for me, 15 minutes of physical activity first thing in the morning. Can I do more? Sure. Can I do 20, 30 minutes? Yeah, baby permitting. But if I do 15 minutes of yoga, take the dog for a walk, strength training, I know when I do those 15 minutes of physical activity, I feel more clear in my thoughts in my mind.

I eat a healthier breakfast. I drink a little less coffee, and I have more patience for my clients, my students, my partner, my family. So that’s my keystone. And when I wake up on those mornings and I think, “Ugh, I’m too tired to do that. I’m too stressed to do that” that’s when I know I need it the most. So, I hope your takeaway, perhaps one of them might be to find and reflect on what is your keystone, the specific objective measurable thing you do every day

that when you do this, all of your healthy habits fall into place a little bit better. I love that. I’m so glad that you brought up the keystone because we talked all that in our first conversation and I just went bonkers for it because I think that’s- I just, I love that. And thank you for also bringing up that brave space and kind of reframing that

because I think that when you said that, I was like, “Oh, yep. That’s it. That’s it right there.” Because I think it is. Yeah. It takes a lot of courage to show up and even just to, whether you’re creating that brave space or you are engaging in it. I think that’s a very, very important reframe.

So thank you for- thank you for sharing all that. I do want to have- just save a few minutes for Q&A. But Jenna and Erica would love just to hear briefly from you, what else do you recommend for keeping yourself happy, healthy, and whole outside of work and how to commit to advocating for yourself?

I plus one to what Stacy mentioned, and it’s interesting that Stacy used the word keystone because I had it as kind of what’s your success routine? And for me, I kind of retranslate that to what is my ritual for ensuring my wellbeing?

What is my ritual for ensuring my sanity? So I love that there’s more of a word versus a question. But I agree. I think the moment that we can ask ourselves those questions or identify that keystone and answer that and respond to that very honestly, the more clarity right, we have on what we need and how we need to healthily show up in all spaces and what we need to be giving or pouring back into ourselves to be able to do that.

So I love having a new vocabulary word to add to that. I think the other thing I’ll say is, look, for the record, I fully endorse therapy. Like wholeheartedly. And believe that everyone, regardless of to Stacy’s point earlier, your mental wellness spectrum- no matter where you’re at on that spectrum, I believe we should be leveraging therapy as a preventative health measure when possible, similar to getting your regular checkups.

Therapy is not just for when you are on the low end of the spectrum or a specific end of the spectrum. It is all the time. Great. And so I fully endorse that, so I just wanted to add those two things. Okay. Thank you. Yes. Team therapy. Team therapy, of course. And shout out to Robyn for creating- she created a mental health resources doc and a little step by step on how to search for therapists or any sort of specialty that you might need.

And I did that and followed along. And here we are, therapy. So I appreciate, shout out to Robyn for that. But I appreciate that. That’s all very important. And Jenna, last but not least, anything else to add there? Yeah. So for me, the word I use is foundation. And I check in with myself and check in with my clients like how was the foundation?

And the foundation consists of sleep, nutrition, exercise, and decompression. So sometimes it really can be something as small as, “Oh my gosh, I haven’t had any water today.” Right? Or, “Oh, no wonder I’m feeling this way. Like I only got five hours of sleep or six hours of sleep when really my point is eight to nine, that’s my sweet spot.”

And so once my foundation is taken care of, then it is more about how do I incorporate that joy into my life? So what I like to use is something called like the joy piano, which, piano has 88 keys. And because of that you can create these beautiful masterpieces. And so if a piano, you only play the same two keys over and over, which is oftentimes what we do.

We do the same two self-care things, or the two things that bring us joy, and we do it over and over and over again. And we wonder why life can feel so dull. So for me, I really like to look at, I had created a list of 88 things that cultivate joy. And again, it can be something as big as going on a vacation or something as small as just staring out and looking at nature for a few minutes or looking at the plant in my office. And then, If I’m starting to feel kind of like that lackluster, it’s like, “Oh, I haven’t done anything new from that list.” So really being able to hold those two things, do I have the foundation taken care of? And then can I implement more of the joy into my life?

Love that. Y’all are great. This is like, I can’t. I’m trying to, I’m trying to talk and take notes at the same time, but that’s- I love that. I love that so much. I was just thinking about that today just kind of playing the same two keys over and over again. It’s like, let’s switch this up a little bit.

Especially for anyone in the Midwest, we’re approaching the darker days of winter, you know, getting that, having that list. I love that. That’s a nice little challenge. 88 things that you enjoy. I love that. Amazing. Okay. Alright, I do want to be- of course I plan to end a few minutes earlier for Q&A, but just love the conversations that we’ve been having. And panelists, thank you all so, so, so much for all of your time and energy and your

extremely valuable expertise and tips on all of this. And I hope that everyone who’s joined, you’ve got something out of this, whether it’s from your personal self or how to have that challenging question with your manager or how to ask for that, whatever it might be, that you were able to take away a few things for yourself and some things to act on.

And we’d love to send a recap as well with some of these highlights of the amazing things that the panel has shared. And also different ways to stay in touch with Jenna, Stacy, and Erica as well. So keep an eye out for that. And then I know that we are at time, but I would love if everyone could stay on just for a few extra minutes.

I think we have a few questions, or at least one question for right now from the Q&A. So we’ll just take a few brief minutes. Okay panelists, can we address the gender differences in cultural norms?

I’m curious to know the gender breakdown of the participants of this webinar. Does anyone want to take that on? Can we address the gender differences in cultural norms here? I’m not sure if that’s still- so it sounds like the question is curious about the attendees’ gender and culture, not ours. But I could be wrong. So if you would be open to clarifying the question, I’d be happy to pull in my colleagues to help explore what you’re asking.

Well, I think it’s hard to Right, assume gender identity, right, from a list of names. But I think even just looking at all of us, right? We all identify as women. And so I think when you think about, I think the topic of mental health, I do think it tends to be more taboo when you think about other, gender identities.

And so I don’t think it’s lost probably on the attendees that there are no male identifying individuals on this panel and having this conversation. And we talked about the importance, right, of normalizing these types of conversations and being honest in these types of conversations. And so really thinking about how much harder it may or may not be, depending on how you identify from a gender perspective, how you identify from a racial and ethnic identity perspective and all the other demographics we could go down and really how that shapes how you’ve been taught about mental health and then how you even acknowledge mental health and then how you go about managing your mental health.

Thanks, Erica. Yeah, I wish Michelle was still in here to clarify, but I’m sure you answered that. Yeah. Honestly, I think that could be a whole other topic with just gender differences, cultural differences, how to navigate this entire, literally doing this whole kind of webinar intention through that lens of gender and cultural differences.

But appreciate the question anyways. Anyone else? I think we might have one more. Oh, okay. So this is a- this is kind of a loaded one, but still good. So this person asks, does anyone have children besides Stacy? How do you work and give time to baby? I do not have any children. I have a husband, which arguably Mm.

Like- but no. I don’t have children. And so I definitely recognize the luxury I have to be more on than folks who have children. Yeah. I do not have children either. But also, yes, right? Like I plan to one day have children. And I will say that that is something that I grapple with of, how will I be able to- I don’t want to say balance both

because doesn’t look like it’s even a balance, right? So yeah. Yeah. I think the- I’ll let Sta- oh, go ahead Stacy. Sure. I so appreciate this question, Nayoka. And for me, when I had- his name is Kit, and when I had Kit, it was a really intentional process of unlearning the intergenerational trauma that I carry as an Asian American immigrant of, be successful in work.

And if you are successful, your family will also be happy. But that’s just not what we know based on attachment and in healthy parent child relationships. And so for me, I’m someone who very much values and attributed a lot of my value to my work accomplishments. And it was really hard.

It continues to be a difficult process of unlearning that my value isn’t limited to what I do in the workplace. My value isn’t limited to my research publications or the courses I teach or the clients that I serve. My value extends beyond that. It includes my legacy. And when I think about my legacy, gosh, what do I want my legacy to be when I’m old in my bed dying.

Probably not going to wish that I worked harder. Probably not going to wish that I published more papers, did more webinars, wrote more books. I’m going to think, gosh, I wish that I would’ve spent more time with my family, with my partner, with my parents, with my siblings, with my son, because our legacy is the people whose lives we touch.

And yes, that can be in the workplace, but beyond that, right? We are people who are social beings. And so I invite you to consider what it might look like to focus on cultivating your family and recognizing that your value is not limited to work, nor is it your family. It’s going to vacillate. In some days

I do a lot of work and not as much baby time. Other days, like all Monday, I’m just mom and I love that. And motherhood is a practice in mindfulness. It’s being in the moment, in the moment without judgment and then not wishing that I was answering emails, not wishing that I was seeing that client.

It’s just being here with this tiny person who, who sees me. And then in the next moment, if I’m at work, being at work and knowing that I gave wholeheartedly of myself when I was with my son and I’m giving a wholeheartedly of myself when I’m at work and it will be a different challenge every day. And you’re doing just fine.

I’m so proud of you. You’re getting me all choked up, Stacy. Oh my goodness. That was, ah! I didn’t know I needed that reminder that your value extends beyond work and it’s not limited to the workplace and what you do. There’s so much more to that. Oh, I love that. Alright, so- well thank you all for anyone who has stayed on, really appreciate that.

I hope you did because that was really beautiful, Stacy, on how to wrap all that up. But thank you all, Jenna and Erica. Y’all are- crushed it today. I’m so grateful to have met you, even though Jenna, it’s nice to work with you again. Jen and I have known each other for a few years. But I just really appreciate this, such an important topic and so many amazing, not even just tips but just like new ways to think about things and just so appreciative of everything y’all shared today and

being vulnerable and open and ah, just really, really amazing stuff. So I really appreciate that. And yeah, if anyone has any other questions, who might still be on right now, feel free- we’ll send a recap email out with contact information and things like that. So if you have any other questions for the panelists individually, whatever it might be, there’s different ways that we can keep in touch there.

So thank you all so much. I really, really appreciate it. This was wonderful and I can’t wait to keep this topic going because it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. So thank you all so much and we’ll see you- we’ll see you soon.

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