Let’s Talk About Mental Health in the Workplace

Wellness & SEL Workshop - 2019 - Photo by Benedict Jones

Mental health is often the last thing talked about in the workplace, but arguably it is the most important element of a functioning company. Managing mental health is a constant battle in life, let alone when managing a job. Conversations surrounding the future of forward-thinking initiatives that will enhance the offices and productivity centers of today and tomorrow happen between HR specialists, futurists, designers, and more in the Workplace Track of the SXSW Conference from March 13-17.

To improve how mental health, mental illness, and disability are handled – we must breakdown the taboo blocking these topics from entering the workplace. Once we name something for what it is, we can start providing the access and support needed to include and lift up individuals who deal with any or all of these conditions on a daily basis and make the workplaces of tomorrow an inclusive and diverse space.

Destigmatizing and Addressing Mental Health at Work

The modern worker is feeling the pressure of always being on; increasingly tense political climates; juggling side-gigs; and striving to keep some semblance of a work-life balance. As a new generation rises in the workforce, how are these stresses impacting their mental health? In this unscripted “fishbowl” style session – Burnout or Build up: Mental Health in the Workplace – audience members will interact with Bindu Garapaty (Gilead Sciences), Courtney Harrison (OneLogin), Mohanjit Jolly (Iron Pillar), and Ruth Umoh (Forbes) while they dig into new data released for the first time on the SXSW stage discussing what the most toxic cultures are today and what employers and employees alike can do to make the future of work a successful and healthier environment for all.

Unjust job termination, ill-informed managerial advice, and unrealistic workplace expectations: these are all contributing factors to the estimated cost of lost productivity in the US workplace due to mental illness— yielding a price tag of nearly $1 trillion. In Mental Illness Advocacy in the Workplace – Shelby Aranyi (IBM), Dr. Kayla Gertsema, Catherine Morse (Enoch Kever, PLLC), and Devin O’Bryan (Watson Studio) uncover legal rights through workplace policy, strategies for long-term behavioral wellness in a dynamic team setting, how to thrive when mental illness creates challenge, and define means to retain top talent for greater career sustainability. Our panel combines the expertise of people that live it: corporate mental health champions, a licensed psychiatrist, and an attorney specializing in Employment Law.

The groundswell to destigmatize employees who are coping with psychological challenges is pressing as employers grapple with recruitment and retention of top-level talent. This rings particularly true for the fast-paced world of startups. Culture Trip Founder, CEO, and former psychiatrist, Dr. Kris Naudts is putting mental health initiatives at the heart of his company with pioneering tactics such as actively recruiting staff who are dealing with mental health issues. Stigma to Strength: Mental Health in the Workplace will put him in discussion with Nick Bennett (Fika), Ayana Gibbs (Psychiatry-UK LLP), and Elisa London (United For Global Mental Health) to focus on how to address mental health in the workplace, why it’s vital and how Culture Trip and other like-minded brands are leading the charge to destigmatize mental health issues.

Connect with Fellow Mental Health Advocates

Questions abound in society about the place for mental health days and the difference between depression and mental strength. At the Mental Health Meet Up led by Ramani Durvasula (California State University) and Jennifer Renoe (Publicis Health Media), professionals who manage such issues will be able to network with peers through shared mutual experiences, discussions of best practices for managing career life, and brainstorming ways we can drive change and acceptance in the workplace.

More on Managing Mental Health

Though these sessions come from various places across the 22 Tracks of Conference programming, they expand further on the destigmatizing of mental health in the workplace and beyond.

Browse More Workplace Track Sessions

For more sessions that cover startup culture – from getting funded to achieving unicorn status, and more – browse through the Workplace sessions.

This Interactive Track gives primary access to Platinum and Interactive Badges while Film and Music Badges enjoy secondary access.

Browse all sessions on the SXSW Schedule and add events to your Favorites list to start planning your SX adventure.

Browse Workplace Sessions

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Featured Image by Benedict Jones

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