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Facebook Breaking the Stigma of Mental Health Acceptance in the Workplace

Facebook recently held a live watch video of the cast and producer of “Dear Evan Hansen” speaking about mental health in children and teens and another about mental health in the workplace. Considering Facebook is the most popular social media website, its large team is helping to break the stigma of mental health in the workplace. Facebook believes they can help break the stigma of mental health in the workplace by its three core principles- increasing awareness, improving access to care, and creating peer-to-peer support.

Facebook’s Panel of Dear Evan Hansen

In the panel at Facebook’s New York office, producer Stacey Mindich spoke about how her show “Dear Evan Hansen”, a musical about a teenager with social anxiety and depression becomes part of a lie that involves pretending to be friends with another student who committed suicide, speaks about the importance of human relationships. The more people communicate with each other, the more people will realize that they are not alone. That by speaking to your parents, children, and friends can make an impact in saving their lives.

Mindich wanted to be able to tell this story to show different ways that parents are with their children and how it is still a challenge to be able to speak to your kids. That it is not always about how the conversation takes place, but about a parent being able to sit there and just listen to their kid speaking about any issues they are facing. 

Increasing Awareness

In order for Facebook to help increase awareness, their goal is to make it easier for employees to feel comfortable talking about mental health issues in the workplace. Employees need to realize that their careers will not be affected by speaking out about their mental illnesses. Because Facebook has a large team, it was easy for them to create an environment where different seniority levels and offices all over the world feeling comfortable sharing their stories. By having different people work at Facebook, more people felt confident with themselves opening up. It also helps that Facebook used #OpenUp to encourage employees to speak about their mental health battles, coping mechanisms, and success stories online.

Improving Access to Quality Care

The first way to improve quality care is allowing flexibility to get the quality care that employees need to thrive in the workplace. Facebook encourages employees to work hours that they feel comfortable with. This will help them be able to work space in their schedules to be able to attend therapy or go to a doctor’s appointment. 

The second way is giving employees access to resourceful care plans. While there are businesses that offer three in-house therapy sessions to employers, Facebook does not think that it is enough to get to the root of an employee’s mental illness. The alternative that Facebook provides is by partnering with a mental health provider called Lyra to provide each person 25 therapy sessions for free. This has helped employees show up at work and have a more positive attitude in the workplace. The third way is in the Menlo Park office in California where there are 12 or 13 on-site counselors also provided with Lyra. 

Peer-to-Peer Support

In order to achieve the effects of employees being able to talk and support each other through their mental illnesses, Facebook used an online collaboration tool of their creation called “Workplace.” Because the #OpenUp campaign was a success in having employees share their stories, struggles, and successes within the workplace, Facebook realized that smaller groups within Facebook were facing or faced in the past struggles with their mental health. Lead Software Facebook Engineer Rafi Romero was one of the first employees to share their story in the group after wanting to tell the truth to his employees for a long time. He said that the experience was both terrifying and liberating in being able to share his story.

Three-Prong Approach for Smaller Companies

Renee Albert, director of Facebook’s Life@ benefits program, has a three way approach for smaller companies to have more confidence opening up about their mental illnesses. One way is by creating focus groups and challenging employees to talk about the actual problem that they need solutions for. Mental illnesses can be very broad in that you have anxiety, depression, self-esteem issues, OCD, eating disorders, anger management, addiction, etc. By getting to understand the root of a problem, you will know better what to do about it.

The second way is through redefining what quality care looks like. This means partnering with vendors that can help encourage employees about telling their stories and implementing strategies throughout the workplace. When Facebook decided to partner with Lyra, Facebook can provide better quality care to their employees. The third way is for employers to create a culture that lets people have open discussions about mental health. While employees already talk about mental health outside of work, it may be hard for them to talk about it in the office in fear of losing their job. If we are already having these conversations naturally with our friends and families, there should be no problem to be able to speak about mental illness to your co-workers and even to your boss. With a large company like Facebook breaking the stigma of how to better mental health talks in the workplace, more big or small companies can be inspired to do the same. 

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