The New Era of Mental Health at Work

w/Ramona Wink and Mallory Gothelf

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Transcript - The New Era of Mental Health at Work

Rich: On this episode of team building saves the world. What could I possibly do for myself in that situation?

Mallory: I mean, I’m a big self-care proponent. That’s what my whole business is based on.

Ramona: And so changing the word from mental health that does have a strong negative connotation to brain health.

Mallory: There is good stress. It forces us into action.

Mallory: Biologically, there is a reason that we have stress and it can be used to our benefit.

Ramona: You know, take a selfie and I want you to act like you’re at the driver’s license place where they’ve just told you not to smile. Right?

Rich: Hello team it’s me your old friend rich Rininsland host of team buildings saves the world, the show where I speak to the leaders and innovators in employee wellness and corporate culture on how it reflects in the world of today. And today we are discussing mental health in the workplace with mental health, counselor and public speaker, Ramona wink, and the founder of find yourself boxes.

Rich: Mallory Gothelf but first I need to share some love with my supporters at team bonding. If your team is ready to experience teamwork through the power of play to visit team to learn more. Now team, please join me in welcoming two women who have spent their careers, not only counseling and assisting with mental health, but also speaking up and bringing mental health needs into public consciousness, Ramona wink and Mallory Gothelf.

Rich: Hello ladies.

Rich: Thank you both so much for coming on board. That is a small group of people like you chained up under my desk just to applaud to you. But beyond that, they’re really healthy. They’re like very self-aware. It’s good. So please, as I say, we’re here to talk about mental health in the workplace. Let’s start off Ramona with you.

Rich: Why don’t you just introduce yourself to my team and tell us a little bit about how you got involved in this field.

Ramona: Yeah. Rich it’s so nice to be with you and Mallory today. I’m a mental health counselor in west Des Moines, Iowa, and love sitting in the chair with my clients, but really am passionate about doing my public speaking because we are facing a mental health

Ramona: crisis where I am in Iowa. We don’t have enough therapists and I believe we’re facing a mental health crisis in our country at large. And so I’m just so thankful for the work that Mallory does and that I do. And that you rich are doing and shining the spotlight on this very important subject, because it really does impact us all.

Ramona: So if I had to boil it down, I’m just really about reaching people and helping them understand that mental health is important. We need to treat it like our physical health. And if we can make somebody’s day to day brighter, by the words that we share of encouragement and wisdom and the tips that we’re going to share, then we’ve done our job and it’s a good day.

Ramona: So thanks for having me.

Rich: Thank you, Mallory. How about you? Same question. Just tell us a little bit about yourself and especially go ahead and tell us a little bit about your, your project.

Mallory: Yeah, absolutely. Yes. Thank you so much for having me. I’m super stoked to be on this call today. This conversation is honestly rejuvenating for me.

Mallory: My main focus in mental health was that I struggled with my mental health growing up and I wanted to find a way to utilize my pain and my story to make a difference and an impact in the world. So I initially started speaking and writing about my experiences as a way to connect with others. And then I had this business concept come to mind, this idea that

Mallory: a lot of people didn’t know what to say or do for me when I was first diagnosed. It’s not that they didn’t want to help. They just didn’t have the words or tools. And so I wanted to create something physical and tangible that people could send to their loved ones to say, I’m here for you, you matter. And I want to show up and help in any way that I can.

Mallory: So I created these boxes, self care focus, that couple products that help promote self care and healing. They are also just a really powerful gesture to say, I’m here for you and I love you. And so I created this concept and I kind of launched it mid COVID. So we did it at a really fun time. Um, so I’m very excited to be taking my story and spreading it and hopefully making an impact because at the end of the day, I think you’re right.

Mallory: I think it’s all about sharing our story. So other people don’t have to struggle, especially during this time when it is absolutely a mental health crisis.

Rich: Fantastic. Let’s talk about the crisis though, that we are facing. Can you give me the specifics? What exactly is the crisis that we’re talking.

Ramona: Absolutely mental health. Like I said, rich impacts all of us. At some point one in five adults will suffer from a mental health disorder. And so when I’m speaking, I always ask people to think about their families. Think about their coworkers, think about their social circles. And one in five people will have a mental health issue at some time.

Ramona: If that person is not you, um, then you’re still impacted like Mallory’s story. I’ve struggled myself with my own issues, but I really got into this field because my dad struggled when I was in high school and battled major depressive disorder. It was 1980s. It was the farm crisis. And my dad was struggling like many farmers and his struggle impacted my mom and me.

Ramona: And so, you know, when I tell that story, it just reminds me that, that my life was changed because my dad was going through that. So one in five, and on top of that, much thanks to COVID, we’re all experiencing burnout. So a statistic that I use when I’m talking is 89% of us in America have experienced burnout in the last year.

Ramona: When I say, how many of you have experienced burnout? You know, and everybody’s hand goes up. But maybe the one shy person in the room goes up. I always say, I’d like to talk to you afterwards because I want to know your secret. If you haven’t experienced burnout in the last care 18 months, you’ve got something that I don’t have.

Ramona: Right. Because as a counselor, I was burnt out. Right. So, um, those are numbers that are shocking and alarming. And when we don’t have enough therapists in the chair to see people, then. The point, it becomes, you know, all of our issues, because if we can just give that dose of encouragement to that person who may not get into seeing a therapist that may save a life literally.

Ramona: And so I’m thankful to, to learn about Mallory, what you’re doing, because again, it’s just that connection piece. And so, you know, we need more people in the chair, but we need to just be equipped with tools that we can, that everybody can use in their daily life, just to be kind and supportive and empathetic to people as they’re going through life.

Ramona: Just like we all are.

Rich: Well do either of you ladies, can you tell me what kind of burnout are we facing. I am an artist in my career choices and we were still all facing stress, myself included, but as a business podcast, what kind of burnout can we associate with that?

Mallory: That’s a really, really great question. A really interesting question too.

Mallory: And I think part of what I’m noticing. Is that there’s a blurred line between professional life and personal life. And part of that is the work from home culture. Part of that is the amount of technology we have where we’re always plugged in at every moment. It feels like it’s really hard to step away from the office away from emails, away from these things, because they’re constantly in our face.

Mallory: And so it’s really hard to set the boundary and say, I’m going to walk away from this. When your boss emails you at seven o’clock at night, and he says, Hey, can you do this thing for me really quickly, you want to be a good employee. You want to show that you work hard, but you’re also then taking away from your time to recharge your battery.

Mallory: And so I think those blurred lines are making it really tricky for people to take the space they need to reset. And they’re starting to feel the weight of that.

Ramona: I think that’s very true Mallory that that line has become blurred. And especially with COVID with, with kids at home and, and not in school, then working parents were having to not only do their job from home, which many of them had never done, but now they were having to be that teacher at home and, and trying to monitor their, their students doing the math or the, you know, social studies or science or whatever.

Ramona: And so my clients tell me all the time, you know, They had to put on their teacher hat. And so that’s caused burnout on top of that. I think economics, right? I mean, I think that prices cause burnout. You know, a lot of my teachers on my caseload are saying, Ramona, I can’t make ends meet. I’m going to have to get another job this summer because my teacher’s salary is not going to cut it with gas prices the way they are and food prices.

Ramona: So there are a lot of extra stressors out there outside of the workforce that are causing us to feel anxious, stressed, burnout.

Rich: Okay. We understand of course, why this is important. We are talking about for many people, the difference between surviving and not surviving. And if there’s anybody out there, I always want to start off by saying, if there is anybody out there who is considering an alternative to surviving, please reach out for help.

Rich: We of course know the national suicide prevention hotline can be reached at 1 800 2 7 3 8 2 5 5. But why is this so important in a corporate sense? What is it that a business faces when it comes to mental health?

Ramona: I talk about this all the time Rich. So again, they’re going to that, that corporate culture is going to decrease because there’s going to be employees who, if they’re burnout are just struggling with focus, they can’t do that task that they were so able to do before.

Ramona: They don’t want to go to the team building meeting. Right. Because they’re just sad or angry or just, you know, don’t feel well physically or whatever it is, maybe they’re not sleeping. And so they’re coming to work tired. So it does impact corporate cultures when people are burned out and then that ripples all the way through the culture.

Ramona: And, and to your point about, you know, people not wanting to be here when I’m teaching in the corporate setting, I always say, I hope that you’ll remain you’ll hear my voice. When I ask you, if somebody says to you, I don’t want to be here. What do you do with that? I hope that you hear my voice saying you’ve got to ask some curious questions and you’ve got to try to tease that out because it could mean I don’t want to be here because my kid is playing soccer and I’d rather watch him score that goal.

Ramona: Sure. Or no, I don’t want to be here. Right. And that’s a whole different ball game. So thank you for putting on that number of the hotline and, and managers are having to kind of navigate those waters and so it impacts corporate culture so heavily today.

Rich: Plus you’re talking about for those people in management positions or human resources, these are heavy topics to even bring up Mallory.

Rich: I was actually reading through a bunch of articles before we came on together today. And I’m noticing that mental health is still so unspoken. Why is there still this stigma, uh, around a person’s mental wellbeing?

Mallory: Yeah, that’s, it’s something that I think about often and I’m in a space where people are regularly talking about it.

Mallory: So sometimes I forget how quiet it is in other areas of, of, of life. And I go into a lot of schools and give a lot of talks there, and I think it’s, it starts with that early education and putting a face to what mental health challenges look like. I think our media does a really horrible job of depicting mental health challenges, mental health crises.

Mallory: It looks terrifying. And we have events that go on in our current era. Current culture it’s blamed on mental health and people are like seeing mental health depicted in a way where the people are scary or bad. Or, and I use this word with air quotes, and I say that because no one will be able to see me when I say it

Mallory: crazy. Like, that’s what they think when they talk about mental health, because those are the depictions they’re receiving. It’s important that we put real faces and real people to what mental health challenges actually look like. If you don’t, you probably don’t realize your coworker could have depression, but they’re still out there living their life in a way that you would never guess that you would never notice that.

Mallory: And that’s actually what mental health challenges usually look like. It’s just your everyday person who has a private struggle. It’s not necessarily this big, catastrophic thing that we see once it hits its breaking point. So I think that’s part of the problem is that it’s not depicted properly in our, in our, in our culture.

Rich: No, you’re absolutely right. I mean, how many times can you switch on a television show at any given time, whether it’s fantasy sci-fi drama, what have you, where the villain of the piece is depicted as somebody who’s villainous because they have a mental health problems. Exactly. So Ramona, how can we fight this?

Rich: And what can a company do to actually allow their employees to know that it’s okay to talk about it.

Ramona: I have a couple of stairs suggestions from that Rich number one, you know, bringing in speakers about mental health. I tell people all the time, um, if a company is putting their money where their mouth is, and actually hiring somebody to come in and talk to their employees.

Ramona: Then the employees actually know that they’re serious, right. Because speakers don’t come for free usually. And so that’s a really good thing. The other thing that when I’m talking to managers is I say, you’ve got a model, you’ve got to lead the way. If you need a mental health day, you need to take the mental health day and you need to tell your team I’m taking a mental health day, because guess what?

Ramona: If you’ll pave that way, then when they’re hurting, they’ll do the same thing. Right. Um, and then just normalizing it, just talking about it and just helping to reduce the stigma. Thankfully, I think that our young people now are, you know, not growing up with thinking that mental health is bad. You know, a lot of kids are in therapy.

Ramona: We see little children as young as three in our office. And I’ll tell a quick, quick story, but I see the mom and one of my other therapists here sees the little girl and the little girl I think is like six. And the little girl was telling her friend at school that she had an appointment with her therapist.

Ramona: And the other little girl said, well, what’s a therapist. And the little girl said, well, it’s just somebody like my mom that I can go to and really get support. And, and the other little girl wanted to fit in. And so she said, I have a tutor. And so, but my point of that story is, is that here this little six year old was telling her little friend that she was excited to go to therapy.

Ramona: And so I’m thankful for that. So just normalizing that in the workplace. If you can say, Hey, I’m going to see my therapist or I’m going to take my child to the therapist or whatever, just if managers can be talking about that and normalizing that, I think that goes a long ways.

Rich: Okay. So that’s something that corporations can start to do.

Rich: Mallory, what about the individual themselves? Because I, I like you also suffered from a period of my life where I was diagnosed as clinically depressed and, you know, I even will come out and say that I had suicidal ideation at the time. And I know that the hardest thing to do was even to admit there was anything wrong to someone else.

Rich: So how do we get the people who are suffering over the hump and willing to talk.

Mallory: Yeah, it’s a great question. And it’s something that I have definitely had to grapple with over the years in terms of the workplace, I had to decide whether my mental health was going to be my priority or my career was going to be my priority.

Mallory: And not that those two things necessarily are not, you know, able to co-exist, but I had to decide which one was most important to me when I went into job interviews because I started to be very upfront about my mental health. When I walked into them, I was like, I am choosing to set the precedent here that my mental health comes first.

Mallory: And then I might have to leave once a week to go to therapy, because this is the way I’m going to be a productive work. And it was hard. There were jobs where like, I think they were not interested in me as a candidate moving forward. I can’t say for sure, but there was definitely that fear that maybe that’s why they didn’t choose me.

Mallory: But I did find a company prior to me starting my business that did very much except me for that. And they said, great, we’ll work out a schedule for you. We’ll if you need to leave during the day, you can come back and just make up the work and whatever way you see fit. And that to me helped me realize that as an individual.

Mallory: You’re interviewing the company as much as they’re interviewing you. If that company’s culture is not going to be accepting of your mental health, that’s not a place you want to work anyway, because you know, you’re not going to thrive there. And so I think, I know it’s really difficult to start that conversation, but if you kind of flip that switch and say, okay, I’m in a position of power here, I’m making a decision for my own health.

Mallory: That puts you in a role where you feel empowered and you have choices and opportunities there. So I think if you’re open to doing it, it’s a good first step as on the employee level to changing a culture in a company. And I think that’s really, really powerful experience to have

Rich: fantastic. Yes, indeed.

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Rich: They’ve created a catalog of innovative events using the power of play as a learning tool and tapping into the correlation of work and play.. From scavenger hunts to jeopardy and so much more, including mental wellness activities, the team bonding of activities, whether they’re live virtual or hybrid, maximizes the impact of team building with an accent on fun.

Rich: So visit team to schedule your event. Team bonding when you want seriously fun results. And we are back talking about mental health in the workplace with Ramona wink and Mallory Gothelf. All right, ladies, you were talking about for a brief moment there. The, we, we were talking about the pandemic and now the pandemic is indemic.

Rich: And we’re looking at people starting to get back to work, even in, even in a partial way. Ramona, what are we seeing now?

Ramona: Yeah. Some of my clients want to get back to the office. Some of them want to stay home and, and, and continue that remote working. And some of them are going to be in a hybrid situation.

Ramona: And so, but whatever, you know, option there, they’re having to choose there’s some stress and anxiety, right. Because. To give you an example. A lot of people got a pet during COVID, right? And so that pet was wonderful when COVID was really going on and they needed that extra fur baby, at home to get some support.

Ramona: Um, but now we have to care for that pet in a different way. And so it can be stressful. I think also what I’m seeing rich and Mallory is that lost some sense of knowing how to be in relationship with people. One of the presentations that I do is called restarting the conversation. How can we share time and space and be in relationship with people that, that we don’t agree.

Ramona: Um, on certain subjects, how can we do that? And you know, when I’m talking about that, I, I say that I’m old enough to remember the times when, when people could disagree. And it was like having that, you know, chat around the water cooler that, you know, our, our team will get you next time. Right. I mean, you know, and, and it was that competitive fun spirit.

Ramona: And now. It feels like we’re so divided and, and that saddens me. And so I built this whole presentation on that because I think we need to in the corporate workplace, learn how to re-engage with people and, and have a great core corporate culture and recognize that the goal is not to agree all the time.

Ramona: We can be authentic and, and choose to disagree. And that’s okay.

Rich: That’s certainly not just in the corporate world, but in every day, I mean, I can never, in my lifetime remember a country that has been this divided. And do we think that that might have something to do with the pandemic as well? That people were feeling isolated and by being isolated, decided to stay there.

Ramona: I’ll jump in on that. Just because again, I’ve got a slide in my head that I can remember, but it was from the Carnegie international peace foundation. And I can’t quote the slide specifically, but it said something to the effect that the United States has never been more divided and more polarized than we are right now.

Ramona: And the, and the quote said that I’ve got on my slide. We are in very dangerous and uncharted territory. And when I’m speaking on that, I say, if that doesn’t scare the bejesus out of you, I don’t know what will, but the fact remains is that we are very divided and we need skills. And the willingness, I think, to re-engage and restart the conversation.

Rich: Now let’s talk about the multi-generational workforce, because we know now that in the marketplace, you have people from the greatest generation to myself, gen X, all the way down through the millennials who were the majority of the workforce and the Gen Zs. While it seems easier for later millennials and the gen Z folk to have these open discussions.

Rich: That’s not always the case with the older generations. So is there a way we can actually help to bridge that gap? Or we seeing that it’s not even that big of a deal?

Mallory: I certainly think it is. It is a big deal and I noticed that in some of the older generations, just in terms of maybe it’s not even just mental health, but turn us things about gender identity and pronouns in the workplace and things like that.

Mallory: I’ve seen a lot of discussion about that, and I do think it just comes down to education and making it something that you speak about, whether it’s like, you know, when you have a team meeting, a weekly meeting, if you pick a disc like a topic of discussion and say let’s discuss this in the workplace.

Mallory: Where are you having trouble with this? Where can we help you learn a little more about this? What feels more comfortable? I mean, we have, you have lunch and learns. You have the opportunities to expand people’s minds, not just job specific skills, but in a, as a, you know, again, as the culture, because when you are willing to learn and expand your mind, you’re a better employee because you can see things from different perspectives.

Mallory: While it is challenging. And I see that there are conflicting opinions about it. I do think it’s a discussion worth having, because I think there’s so much that both generations can learn from one another and really bridge the gap because if you have them working together well, then it’s going to be an unstoppable team right there.

Rich: Right. But let’s say I’m now the CEO CFO would have you have a corporation. Everything that we’re talking about will take time and money. What’s the benefit for me? How what’s my cost analysis on this? How do I know this is the better course of action for me to take and w and what will I see as a result, or should I say.

Ramona: Rich, I think you’ll see retention and I’m not in the HR field, but obviously I talked to a lot of HR professionals, right. And, and they tell me how hard it is to retain good folks. And so it costs money for corporations to lose an employee and rehire, right. And go through that process. And so again, I go back to my point when that employee is seeing that CEO bring in

Ramona: speakers for those lunch and learns like Mallory was talking about or, and just providing that education and, and being that person, that’s going to say, I’m going to spend money to shine the light on the subject because it’s so important to our company, to our culture. And it defines who we are. Then I think you’re going to retain employees.

Ramona: And that helps your bottom line.

Rich: What about other cost-effective methods like insurance? We all know that if you have to, everybody’s got to get insurance, but if you have to pay for the, you know, pay out for things that are occurring, that’s going to cost you even more. So, what about the mental health side of health?

Rich: Are we seeing when it comes to insurance rates?

Mallory: Yeah, I mean, my, my only thought is that whether your employee has mental health challenges or is just generally stressed, having them utilize mental health services is only going to benefit them. And that comes back to the workplace when you not, it’s not that you can’t bring your full self to work when you should be able to bring yourself authentically.

Mallory: But when you have to try to block out stuff, that’s going on in your life, and it’s not being worked out in any other area of your life, that spills right into the workplace. And that takes up time. There are employees that are going to chat about that during the day. So they talk to another coworker.

Mallory: That’s, that’s wasting time right there. They’re not really working. There’s going to be times where they have to take more breaks. They might get sick more often because when your mental health is suffering, your physical health also suffers. So that’s more time off. So if you’re taking into account, sure

Mallory: you’re going to have to pay for these services. Well, when you have happy healthy employees coming into the workplace, being able to put out and put their best foot forward oh, you are going to see that come back tenfold. And there are plenty of companies. And the first one that comes to mind really is Patagonia.

Mallory: They’re like a really good model for this. They put out this certain expectation and standard and they back it up with all these services and their company continues to see growth in revenue. And that’s just one example of many companies who are taking the lead on that and making that a priority and seeing it work in their favor.

Ramona: To the back off of Mallory’s point, you know, um, one of my clients, uh, who was a teacher actually left the district that she had taught at for many years because they switched insurance and that new insurance doesn’t have mental health coverage. And so my client went to the principal and said, I have found another job in a different district who has

Ramona: better health coverage for mental health and I see my therapist every week and I’ve got to make that happen. My mental health is a priority and she said, I’m taking a pay cut to do this. And so again, to, to Mallory’s point, mental wellness is so important. And so when a company can say, we’ve got good insurance benefits, again, I go back to my point about retention.

Ramona: You’re going to hold on to good people.

Rich: And are we thinking that we’re seeing better health effects of the hybrid model? I mean, we were talking before about how there are people who do want to go back in there, people who dont. What are we seeing, largely?

Ramona: What I hear from my clients. And again, I have to think I’ve got a window to the world, through my clients because I just serve a wide variety of people.

Ramona: But, um, people want the choice, right? My clients are, are anxious and unhappy. If the company is saying, you have to do this. And so if it’s the hybrid model and the company is. We do need you to come in two days a week, but we’ll let you pick those two days. Then my clients are happy. And so if my clients tell me anything, that would be my recommendation for companies.

Ramona: If you can give them the choice, anytime we can empower people with choices, they’re going to be more mentally sound and secure because we all want choices in life.

Rich: So Mallory, let’s talk about that one person who is sitting at a desk and might be struggling. What can we offer them? As a way to redirect themselves or to get over the hump.

Mallory: That’s a, that’s a great question. I think, I mean, they’re providing resources always is important, but I think continuously doing so I think it’s one thing to post resources and say like, here they’re here and never talk about them again. But I think giving them access to resources consistently and reminding them that it’s good to utilize these things.

Mallory: I think when you have check-ins with your one-on-ones with your employees, if you’re a manager, bring it up and ask how that person’s feeling and really ask them how they’re feeling. Not just in a, how are you doing? I’m good. How was your weekend? It was good. Like kind of have that conversation where you really care about the answer they’re giving.

Mallory: And take the time to notice if they, maybe they looked a little off, check in about that. How’s your day going? How’s your workload is everything okay at home? Whatever you feel comfortable, whatever questions feel good to add. I think if we take the time to have that human connection along with providing those resources, it’s going to make the person feel more comfortable opening up.

Mallory: I’ll say that my old boss, she would check in with me and she would be like, how, like, how is your mental health? Do you feel like our arrangement with your therapy is working for you? And she would ask those questions. And that was, that was the first time anybody had asked me such things. And do you know what I loved working there for that fact

Mallory: ’cause I felt like I was accepted here. And when I took days off, nobody was questioning them for my mental health. And when I was in the workplace, I try to put out the best work I possibly could because I knew I was comfortable to do so. So it’s, it’s really opening the door and making sure people feel comfortable and it’s, it really is gonna make all the difference in how they, how they approach their work.

Rich: What about some ideas about what they can do for themselves? Because I noticed, and this was more about, you know, me sitting down and looking at myself. Looking at my symptomology, knowing when I was backsliding and what I could do to assist myself. So let us say then, because when I’m sitting in my apartment, it’s not a big deal, but when I’m sitting at a desk it’s very different.

Rich: So what could I possibly do for myself in that situation?

Mallory: I mean, I’m a big self care proponent. That’s what my whole business is based on. Um, so I’m someone like. I, I plan my days around certain aspects of my self care. Like I really do. Um, in the mornings I try to meditate before I work, putting myself in a good Headspace.

Mallory: And I know that around two, three o’clock I start to get really anxious about the rest of the evening and what that’s going to look like. I have a cup of tea that I make myself, and these are all things you can bring into the workplace, just small ways to redirect yourself. So if you need to get up, grab that, you know, hot mug of tea and take a moment.

Mallory: Take a deep breath and relax for a second. Do that. I’m a fidgety person. I have about 20 things on my desk here that you cannot see that are all here for me to fidget with, because I know I have a lot of anxious energy. So I’m someone that if you can figure out the times a day that maybe you notice you start to feel certain things, your mood dips, you start to feel anxious, plan around those times and find outlets for them that aren’t necessarily super

Mallory: distracting. If you are in the office, there are quiet ways to do little self-care things and plan those into your day so that you don’t feel like, oh, no, like that time’s coming and I’m not going to be productive now. Like find a way to channel that. And I, I mean, again, I that’s the whole basis of my company, so that’s why I’m so big on that.

Rich: Ramona has the mental health stigma actually improved. And why.

Ramona: Yes. Um, yes, it has. I’ll expand on that, but if I can offer one other technique, last question, um, a technique that I use with my clients, and then I teach it to corporate people and it sounds so simple, but it works so well. My clients would know it as Ramona’s three questions and those three questions are, what am I feeling. There

Ramona: you want an emotion word. What do I need? And there’s a big difference between needs and wants. Right. And what can I do? Right. And so I have my clients work through that and I tell people from the stage, just like I tell my clients, I don’t have your answers. It’s not my job. As your therapist to have your answers as a manager, it’s not the manager’s job to have that employee’s answers.

Ramona: So they’ll never hear me say, what can I do for you? Because if I do that, I’ve stripped my client of their power. And so I also help managers know, I know you mean well, but the goal is to empower your employee. And so have them use those questions and keep it in the first person. What am I feeling? There

Ramona: you want an emotion word. What do I need? And what can I do? Right. And so that’s just a very simple resource that I use. So I wanted to share that. Okay. Stigma. Yes. It’s gotten better, but we still have a lot of ways, a lot of ways to go. Um, there’s, uh, lots of different initiatives, you know, the make it okay

Ramona: campaign. It’s okay. Not to be. Okay. You see teachers with that, um, all over. That’s a really great way to say. It’s okay. Not to be okay in Iowa here, we have a state initiative and it’s the Iowa healthiest state initiative. And, and part of that is, is just interviewing Iowans who have struggled with mental health.

Ramona: My issue was, I told you about my dad, but my issue was I’ve suffered from an eating disorder twice. And so I got to tell my story about having an eating disorder and then they put that up on that website and it just lets other Iowans know that functioning people in the workforce have struggled mentally.

Ramona: Right. And so doing things like that. And then there’s also another campaign, really changing mental health to brain health. I presented at a community college recently and they are very big on that brain health campaign. I think it’s a nationwide campaign. In fact, I know it is because right before my speech.

Ramona: Alabama, I think was zooming into the call because she had heard about what this community college was doing and her platform as miss Alabama. And I hope I’ve got that right. It was a Southern state that started with a, I think it’s Alabama is that brain health awareness. And so changing the word from mental health that does have a strong negative connotation to brain health.

Ramona: That’s just another avenue that people are really working hard to reduce that stigma.

Rich: Okay. Speaking of stigma and for as long as I’ve been alive, I have heard how stress is the silent killer, but people still look at stress as yeah everyone has stress. They have it every day. Can you give me exactly how bad stress is for someone and what it can actually lead to?

Ramona: Stress can lead to, you know, other, uh, mental or brain health issues, right? Stress can lead to anxiety. Stress can lead to depression. Stress can lead to obsessive compulsive disorder. Stress can certainly lead to panic attacks and stress can lead to suicide. So I think that people need to really ramp up their self-care like Mallory is talking about and, and getting a baseline of their stress.

Ramona: Right. Um, Because we’re all going to have stress. Right. I don’t think that we can go through a day and be totally stress-free right. That we’re going to have a flat tire, the cars aren’t going to start, or a kid gets sick or whatever it is, but, but have a baseline of when things are really good and then have a way to monitor that.

Ramona: And then like Mallory said, have some great things in your toolbox that you can pull out to say, this is what I’m going to use today. Self-care is a big one. Like Mallory talks about to say, I’m going to reduce my stress and I’m going to keep it at that manageable level. But yeah, stress can be a killer

Rich: as a corporation.

Rich: How can I identify. And how can I help those employees that I know were undergoing it? Like we all know when you’re coming up for a big project that has to be finished or you’re coming into, you know, the, the end of the second quarter where you haven’t met quotas it’s stressful for all Mallory. I’ll give this one to you.

Rich: How do I then make sure my people are okay.

Mallory: And that’s a big one, especially, and I, and this, when I think of quarterly quotas and when, when there’s stuff on the line that really does affect the business and it is crunch time. And I think I want to first differentiate that there is a, there is good stress.

Mallory: Stress does actually it forces us into action. Biologically, there is a reason that we have stress and it can be used to our benefit. It’s when we are, somebody is in a constant state of stress when we have chronic stress and we’re never letting our body, our parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system do their job.

Mallory: And we’re never taking ourselves out of stress. That’s when it really becomes the problem because we’re never in a relaxed state. So that’s when we’re more prone to getting sick. We’re more prone to having both physical and mental health challenges. So I think in terms of managing stress, We have to find, we have to take the time again.

Mallory: I’m big on checking in with your employees. Sometimes you can’t change the situation, but sometimes it’s good to talk about it and let us all kind of collaborate. Sometimes it’s thinking about how can we manage this better? Okay. Are quotas coming up? How can we plan that? We’re going to do X, Y, and Z on these different days.

Mallory: So it’s not falling all on one day where you need to get all of this work done. I think having a good time management uh, system is really important. And I think also when you are noticing an employee like visibly looking stressed and overwhelmed, Tell him to go take a, I am big on the mental health walk.

Mallory: Go take a mental health walk around the block. Come back in in a little bit. I think sometimes it’s simplistic. I know it doesn’t take all the stress away, but letting them know it’s okay to step aside for a moment, get themselves back into a better space where they’re able to then focus on things and break things down in a manageable way.

Mallory: It’s a good way to start. I know we can’t fix all of these things that are going on, but sometimes they’re a little systems we can put in place that make it that much easier.

Rich: Yeah. Even for me, when I was suffering with the depression, getting up and walking was like a reset button, physical light. It’s amazing how much physical activity just allows your brain to shut off.

Rich: And then you can turn it back on as it means.

Mallory: Yeah. And those endorphins,

Rich: indeed. Those are good, indeed. Well, speaking of which, as you know, part of what I do for a living is I get people together in teams, people who work together, who may not have had those abilities to actually sit down and talk to one another.

Rich: Is there positive mental implications to having those kinds of group events. Ramona, go ahead.

Ramona: I think there are definite positive implications that when you can get people together, Rich and I, I, this is what you do, right. But when we can be together and just share that fellowship, right. And I think we live in such a fast paced world and we’ve been so siloed thanks to COVID and those things, but when we can share.

Ramona: Space and just connect with one another and look people in the eye and see that smile. One thing I do in my presentations is, you know, I say simply smile more and I have people get their phone out. And I say, I want you to, you know, take a selfie and I want you to act like you’re at the driver’s license place where they’ve just told you not to smile.

Ramona: Right. That’s when you take that selfie and then you take the selfie of when you smile. And I say, I want you to keep these on your phone because I don’t know about you, but mine where I’m not smiling I’m like, dang, that’s what the world sees when you’re not smiling. And so just offering your smile to the world, no one can smile like you can.

Ramona: And it is a free gift that we can, that we can give to ourselves and

Rich: others. And then you want to add to that Mallory, like what about isolationism? I mean, that’s the one thing we tried to actually fight against is people thinking they’re alone.

Mallory: Yeah. And I think part of, one of the most difficult things that I’ve seen with COVID is that we are feeling isolated and human beings are social creatures by nature.

Mallory: That is, that is how we are wired. It’s still to be around other people. And I do think what I’ve noticed for myself personally, When people don’t interact with me, I can be very sneaky about hiding what I’m going through. I can send a text message with four exclamation points and you will never know that I am in the middle of a depressive episode.

Mallory: I mean, I try not to lie about it anymore, but there are times when I’m very good at that. Or I can put on a front on the camera. I promise you I am having a good day, but I could have come on onto this podcast and said, you know, I’m doing great and I could have faked it because you’re not in the same room as me.

Mallory: You’re not. And you can pick up on how people are feeling in that way when you when you are with them. And so I think it is important that whether you are going back into the workplace or not, you’re taking time to meet with people because they are going to not only is a good for your mental health, but they can pick up on things when you are not doing so well.

Mallory: And they can reach out to you and letting you know that you’re not so alone. And so I think it is really important to spend that time with other people, because even your coworkers who you might think don’t really notice you outside of the office, when you’re in the office, they do notice that something is going on and I’ve more likely than not.

Mallory: They will reach out to you and ask because people do care.

Rich: What about virtually, like you said, now we’re looking at each other and. You know, two by three inch, little squares sitting on a computer screen, how do we still reach out to those people virtually? How do we still let them know that if you’re okay or if you’re not okay, and need to talk to them?

Ramona: One thing that I try to do is help companies recognize the languages of appreciation in the workplace. Same as the five love languages, but really, you know, recognizing how someone in the workplace wants to be appreciated. And one of those languages is physical touch. Right? When we’re always through the screen, if your language of appreciation is physical touch, you were that person who wanted to show up to the office and give somebody a hug, or you needed that hug.

Ramona: Right. And now for a lot of reasons that may not be possible or appropriate, you’ve had to find another way. And so I was recently doing a presentation that was all virtual. It was actually global. There were people on the call from turkey and Ukraine, even in India and this company, which is globally based, they said, we recognize that.

Ramona: And we’ve had to just, you know, do high fives where we put our hands up and it’s not just something flippant that they do really quick, but we put our hand up and the other person puts their hand up and just trying to feel that through the screen. And they did it, they demonstrated to me, I’m like, wow, that’s powerful.

Ramona: You know, just having that sense of we’re not in the same room, but I can see your hand and I can feel my own hand. And I feel like we’re connected.

Mallory: Yeah. I think the one benefit to virtual is that sometimes you can do things anonymously. And so one, one of my friends told me this, something about one of her companies that she worked for.

Mallory: Um, they had this like virtual whiteboard and nobody could see what you were writing. But they would ask questions to the group and you could be really, really honest about what was going on. Now, I guess if it’s something serious, you want to hopefully be able to reach out and find the person who wrote it.

Mallory: But I think it was a good way that people felt more comfortable being a little more honest because they did have that, that anonymous place to kind of hide behind which I sometimes don’t love. But I think in a workplace sometimes not having. it be So in your face gives people the space to feel like, okay, maybe I can share a little more.

Mallory: And that does kind of open the door for further conversation, because if a leadership team is looking at that board and saying like, here’s all the things that our employees are stressed about, like let’s maybe address some of these things and nobody feels targeted for that one thing. So I think there are some positives to virtual while I do think there’s, you know, it’s, it is difficult.

Mallory: I think there are things where we can be creative and find ways to engage virtually as well.

Rich: Ladies, I could continue talking about this forever. It is not only such a, uh, a full bodied topic of discussion, but it’s so important, but unfortunately we do eventually have to come to an end before we do, though.

Rich: I just want to ask individually, Ramona, is there anything we can do just to sum up for a company, give them, give them a soundbite as to what they can do. To help themselves help their employees.

Ramona: If you want to retain employees, shine that spotlight on mental health. There’s so many ways to do that. Bring in speakers, model what mental wellness looks like.

Ramona: If you’re a leader, take that mental health care day for yourself, normalize it by talking about mental health and brain health issues and just be there for people be that person who has, has that willing heart to say, I hear you. And I’m on this journey with you. We’re in this collectivey, we’re stronger together than we are ever.

Rich: Fantastic. And Mallory for you, that one person out there who is still hiding in the shadows of their mental illness, what would you say to them?

Mallory: It may take time, but do it at your own pace and know that when you are ready to open up, there’s so many resources and people out there who want to listen. It may be a difficult journey.

Mallory: It may have its ups and downs, but when you are ready to reach out and get that help all, there are so many people who can’t wait to see what you do with your life, with all that you’re going to gain along that journey. Sending all of my hope that you do reach out to someone today, if that person is you,

Rich: and please always remember if you are at the darkest points where you’re asking these very serious questions about what tomorrow may or may not look like for, you always know, you can reach out to the national suicide prevention hotline at 1 800 2 7 3 8 2 5 5.

Rich: That number again? 1 800 2 7 3 8 2 5 5. As for me, my team, I hope that each and every one of you is doing well today and remembers just how special you are to me, if not to everybody else in the world and in your life. Ladies, thank you so much. I can’t thank you enough for coming on board Mallory for your bravery of discussing your own personal journey and Ramona for the work you do every day.

Rich: Is there any way my team out there can get ahold of. If they want to continue this discussion with you or if they, or if they need a resource.

Mallory: Yeah. So, um, I am very public now about all the things. So you can find me on Instagram at find yourself boxes. You can email me, find yourself [email protected] or head over to my website.

Mallory: Find yourself Hit me up on all the platforms. I would love to continue the conversation. And I’m always here to lend an ear and a helping hand to get you to the resources need. And

Ramona: Ramona, you can email [email protected]. You can go to my website, which is just And then you can also also find me on LinkedIn, which is M and my first name is Mary.

Ramona: So M Ramona, wink can, I’d love to hear from you today. Thanks so much rich for having us and Mallory. Thanks so much for sharing this time and space. It was great.

Rich: Thank you

Rich: ladies. Once you get my team, get a big round of applause for the ladies up there. Thank you so much for coming on. I hope you, I mean, not only were you an important, you know, bringing up such important ideas in this conversation, but I also hope you enjoyed yourself here today.

Rich: So it speaking with us,

Ramona: it was great. Fun again, thank you for, for all that you do rich and for your team and team building does save the world and I believe it saves lives. So thank you. Thank you.

Mallory: Yes really. Thank you. I saw 26 minutes left and I was like, what? We’ve gone through that much time to speak with.

Mallory: So this, this has been truly the highlight of my day today.

Rich: Thank you. That means a lot. Thank you very much. And I hope you continue to feel that way as we go into my speed round. Yes,

Rich: I enjoy my silliness. All right, ladies, once again, just to explain to you what this is for the next 60 seconds, we’re going to play a brief game together. You’re gonna be hearing some music. That music is exactly 60 seconds long for the entirety of that time. I’m going to be asking questions. Now, you guys are gonna be doing this as a team.

Rich: So the way this is going to work is I will either ask you a question individually by name, or I will just ask an open-ended question. And if I do that, that means either of you can. The objective is of course, to answer as quickly as you can, to try to get through as many questions as you can, within that 60 seconds.

Rich: Our number to beat as I was telling you before is the brand new 14. So if you’re feeling competitive, here we go. All right. Yes. Let’s have fun. Let’s have some fun. What’s your name?

Mallory: Mallory.

Rich: Ramona, which of the seven dwarves is most like you Sleepy. What’s your favorite Disney movie?

Mallory: Alice in Wonderland.

Rich: Ramona name, a product you love so much. You’re happy to talk about it.

Rich: Mallory. What do you do on a rainy day?

Mallory: Dancing? The puddles

Rich: Ramona cake pie.

Rich: Mallory What’s something you remember from kindergarten

Mallory: tripping over my own shoe laces.

Rich: It’s. If someone made a movie of your life, would it be a drama, a comedy, a romcom actress.

Rich: if you have a pet, what question would you like to ask you and to get an answer?

Mallory: Do you think my singing voice is terrible.

Ramona: Why do you love me?

Rich: If you could be greater than he wants for what would it be? Ooh, football. There we go. I’m going to count it, ladies. You got nine. That is hard. Yes, indeed. You go, we call the gentleman’s nine year old.

Rich: Thank you again for coming on board and thank you, my team, that’s it. We are wrapping up another episode of team building saves the world. If you’ve enjoyed this episode, whether you’re new to the podcast and old fan of the show, please be sure to share it with everyone. You know, whether they’re your coworker, a friend, a family member, it just helps us to share this important information.

Rich: You can find out all about us, including all past episodes of team You can also find us wherever you go to find your favorite podcasts. Either Google podcasts, apple podcast, Spotify, wherever you listen, we will be there. And if we’re not there, please message us on our social media is at team bond podcasts.

Rich: And leave us a message telling us where we’re not, because I want to be where you are. Plus tell us if you liked today’s show, if you found this conversation important or inspirational to you, and if you can think of a future topic for the podcast, we want to hear from you. So before we say our final farewells for this episode of team building saves the world, my friends never forget that if you are within the sound of my voice, you are on my team now, and I am forever going to be on your.

Rich: So long team and I’ll see you next time.

Rich: It’s been said that you learn more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. So why not put your coworkers to play with the help of the team at TeamBonding.  TeamBonding was founded over 20 years ago with one simple question. How can employees have a great time while fostering strong, authentic bonds between people who work together? Their catalog of innovative events include scavenger hunt, jeopardy, and much more each activity, whether it’s. Virtual or hybrid maximizes the impact of team building with an accent on fun. Visit team to schedule your event now, team bonding. When you want seriously fun results.

In our latest episode The New Era of Mental Health at Work, Rich speaks with Ramona and Mallory on how to help pave the way for a happier and healthier workplace.

A recent WHO-led study estimates that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy US$ 1 trillion each year in lost productivity.  Mental health advocate Mallory Gothelf, and mental health counselor Ramona Wink chat about the stigma of mental health in the workplace and how organizations can work to support their employees the right way.

Ramona Wink: Ramona Wink is a licensed mental health counselor and motivational public speaker with 515 Therapy and Consulting in West Des Moines, Iowa. She graduated with her Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Drake University and with her BA, majoring in Mass Communications, from the University of Iowa. In her role as a therapist, Ramona sees both individuals and couples. She combines her innate ability to connect with people in an authentic manner with her educational training and her own life experience to support her clients as they navigate mental health issues.

Ramona is passionate about her motivational public speaking role because it allows her to make a positive impact on even more people. Mental health impacts everyone and yet in Iowa, we are facing a mental health crisis due to the shortage of mental health professionals. From the stage, Ramona’s superpower is to share the stories that she hears in her therapist’s chair, with details changed to protect her clients’ confidentiality, normalizing the fact that mental health issues are real! She’s quick to connect with audiences of any size and her warm and engaging personality makes people feel right at home. Her messages are also packed with tools and techniques that audience members can learn and demonstrate in their lives to achieve and maintain mental wellness. Ramona was recently appointed by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds to serve on the Iowa Board of Behavioral Sciences.

Mallory Gothelf:  is a graduate from Northeastern University with a degree in psychology and an unabashed mental health advocate who has spoken and written extensively on mental health and mental illness for companies and organizations including This Is My Brave, Aditum Bio,, The Ruderman Foundation, and Active Minds. Utilizing her story and knowledge around mental health, she launched a mission-driven mental health company, Find Your/self Boxes, which has been featured on GMA3, Channel Kindness, and Outside the Box. The company aims to foster the connection between people and those in their life struggling with mental health challenges by providing opportunities to send curated and customizable self-care boxes filled with research-backed wellness products to promote healing.

" And that's actually what mental health challenges usually look like. It's just your everyday person who has a private struggle. It's not necessarily this big, catastrophic thing that we see once it hits its breaking point. So I think that's part of the problem is that it's not depicted properly in our culture."
- Mallory Gothelf

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