Creating a Mentally Healthy Workplace with Kelly Greenwood, CEO Mind Share Partners

We speak with Kelly Greenwood, founder and CEO of Mind Share Partners, a nonprofit working to change the culture around mental health. We dive into discussion of society’s all-too-common stigma when it comes to recognizing, discussing, and approaching mental health topics; Kelly’s nonprofit seeks to impact this dynamic, specifically by positively shifting perspectives within organizations and workplaces.

In a world in which up to 80 percent of people experience a mental health struggle, Mind Share Partners' mission is particularly imperative. And Kelly herself is no exception to this statistic—she manages a lifelong generalized anxiety disorder with associated depressive episodes. Kelly tells us that, in the past, she perceived her anxiety as a “personal weakness.” She felt ashamed, and was driven to conceal her struggle for fear of professional backlash. Eventually, Kelly had to step away from her job to work toward a healthier headspace.

When, years down the line, she recognized a deficit in organizations attempting to normalize mental health, she decided to pursue an avenue that would provide others with the resources she wishes she’d had at work. What does this entail? According to Kelly: “Ultimately we’re trying to normalize what it looks like to have a mental health challenge at work and reduce the stigma.”

Mind Share does this in three ways: through workplace training and strategic advising, hosting communities to support professionals and employee resource groups, and building public awareness through thought leadership. These efforts, according to Kelly, seek to replicate the three evidence-based ways of alleviating this type of stigma: social contact, peer support, and education.

In working with organizations, Mind Share takes a comprehensive approach, looking at all levels of employment. Kelly references a Mind Share survey that found that “the likelihood that someone in the C-suite had a mental health symptom was just as likely as an entry-level contributor. That really reframes how we think about who has a mental health challenge, right?” This, to Kelly, signals both a “top-down and bottoms up” culture shift at play in the workplace.

What it comes down to, Kelly says, is people feeling comfortable enough to seek help with what are “extremely treatable” conditions that don’t need to be hidden from view. To her and to Mind Share, preventative action is key.

Highlights from this article

There was actually no difference in the prevalence of mental health symptoms across seniority levels. So the likelihood that someone in the C-suite had a mental health, the symptoms was just as likely as an entry level, individual contributor. And so that I think really reframes how we think about who has a mental health challenge, right? It's not necessarily the low performer that I think a lot of people tend to think of.

The three evidence-based ways for reducing stigma around mental health specifically are social contact, peer support and education. And so that's really how we think about out three different programs at Mind Share partners. One of the most powerful things that we see are when leaders really speak up, especially in the C-suite since there are ultimately the culture setters of an organization and they can do so in an ally capacity, if they either don't have a mental health challenge of their own or if they're not comfortable speaking about it, but to have that message come from the top really gives other people permission to have these conversations at work

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