May is Mental Health Awareness Month, the national movement to raise awareness about mental health, fight stigma, educate the public and advocate for the millions of people in the U.S. affected by mental illness. At pep, the commitment to mental health extends beyond a single month. As an organization, we recognize the positive impact that addressing mental health has on productivity and overall employee wellbeing. Studies show that organizations that prioritize mental health experience reduced absenteeism, presenteeism, and increased job performance. By embracing the value of authenticity at work and encouraging employees to share their mental health struggles alongside their physical health challenges, pep creates a space where individuals can be their true selves.
As someone who deals with mental illness, I can honestly say that in my 25 years, pep is the first place I have worked in that has upheld the values and culture it presents, especially around mental health and wellness. I have worked in many industries, in various roles, and each had its own take on being authentic at work. I have been badly treated in the past for disclosing my personal battle, but from day one at pep I have been accepted and encouraged to share when comfortable. I’ve been given the opportunity to speak on a company panel and have moderated mental health conversations with pep leaders. We are allowed to share our mental health struggles alongside our physical health struggles. We are encouraged to take mental health days and long vacations, to pick up kids from school and care for family members when they need it, with no questions asked.
What sets pep apart is an eagerness to invest in every employee, where developing our teams and relationships is valued as highly as our business strategy. Our organization invests in educating leaders and training mental health allies to provide additional support. By empowering leaders to ask, "How can I support you?" and fostering a culture of vulnerability and strength, pep cultivates an environment where employees feel heard and supported in their mental health journeys.
pep's Wellness Employee Resource Group (ERG) has taken the lead in promoting mental health awareness and supporting the overall wellbeing of our team members. Through activities, events, and open forums for recommendations and discussions, the Wellness ERG encouraged employees to pursue their own unique paths to wellbeing. Beyond the month of May it offers tools, resources, and educational initiatives that empower individuals to prioritize their wellness, fostering a culture of care and understanding.
The Wellness ERG will be hosting the 2nd Mental Health Conversation with pep leaders on May 31st, kicking off a series of wellbeing initiatives. In August, we will continue the conversation with a fireside chat where Susan Goodyear, EVP, Client Growth, and Leah Schaefer, EVP, Head of People & Culture, will discuss current and future opportunities for wellness and wellbeing in our community.
Recognizing the value of collaboration, the Wellness ERG has partnered with other pep ERGs, such as the PRIDE and Parents ERGs. This broadened scope enables a more comprehensive approach to mental health, acknowledging that our wellbeing is not limited to the workplace but encompasses our whole lives. By addressing the unique challenges faced by parents and the LGBTQ community in balancing work and personal life, the PRIDE and Parents ERGs create a supportive environment that embraces the mental health needs of all employees.
Most recently, pep’s PRIDE and Parents ERGs hosted a session that spoke directly to mental health:
“Our mental health and wellness is not just tied to what happens in the workplace because we bring our whole selves to work. As parents we’re often trying to meet the deliverables, metrics and goals expected at work while growing, nurturing, and supporting our kids. The PRIDE ERG recently partnered with the Parents ERG to host Tristan Vaught to help educate us as parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, future parents, and allies. Giving us the language, knowledge, and tools to support our kids helps us to help our kiddos.”
- Kristie Schoonover, Associate Director, Learning and Development
As we reflect on Mental Health Awareness Month, it is crucial to acknowledge the ongoing commitment to mental health at pep. By championing the efforts of the Wellness ERG, partnering with other ERGs, fostering leadership support, and prioritizing psychological safety, pep creates a workplace culture that is supportive and caring. This commitment not only benefits individuals but also contributes to a more productive and compassionate work environment. By continuing to fight stigma, provide support, and educate the team, pep is making a difference in the lives of its employees and the broader community affected by mental illness.