Why a Salesforce Engineer Fights for Mental Health Awareness
It was a day like so many others throughout the pandemic. Anxiety, worry and dread were heavy on her mind. But on this day, something shifted for Jodina Grande.
“For the first time in my career, an employer provided a safe space for people to talk about mental health, a topic that was previously taboo in the workplace,” said Grande, a lead solutions engineer at Salesforce.
It was summer of 2021, and Salesforce had just hosted its first company-wide Mental Health Town Hall to address a rise in mental health concerns among its workforce. The goal of the town hall was to encourage employees to find community, learn about resources available to them, and hear from leadership and peers about their own mental health journeys.
It would also change the way Grande thought about mental health in the workplace.
The impact of mental health
In 2021, nearly half of Americans reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorders — a massive jump from the 11% that reported mental health symptoms prior to 2020. What’s more, 150 million people live in designated mental health professional shortage areas, making it difficult to find professional support. So it’s no surprise that people started turning to each other in the workplace for support.
Having experienced mental health challenges first-hand, Grande deeply understood the importance of this issue.
“I’ve lived with anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions for most of my life. I received support within my household because my immediate family was so open about mental health, but I learned very quickly that society wasn’t as receptive to these challenges,” said Grande. “At best, people were confused or dismissive, and at worst, people were mean or ostracizing. When I started my career, I made a conscious decision to lead with empathy in the workplace since you never know what struggles people are going through behind closed doors.”
When I started my career, I made a conscious decision to lead with empathy in the workplace since you never know what struggles people are going through behind closed doors.Jodina Grande, Lead Solutions Engineer
Finding support in challenging times
When the pandemic hit and many employees worked from their homes, colleagues got a more intimate glimpse into each other’s personal lives. As a result, mental health became hard to ignore — you could see people who were trying to balance childcare during the work day or feeling the strain of looking after an immuno-comprimised family member.
So, just a few months after that town hall, Grande decided to take action of her own. She created a #mental-health-matters Slack channel at Salesforce to provide a safe, supportive, and stigma-free community for anyone interested in mental health awareness.
“It was crucial to me to create a space that destigmatizes the preconceived notions of mental health,” Grande stated. “By opening up about mental health in the workplace, we can set essential boundaries, find support we need, and feel more connected to our teams, which ultimately helps us be more productive in our day-to-day jobs.”
By opening up about mental health in the workplace, we can set essential boundaries, find support we need, and feel more connected to our teams, which ultimately helps us be more productive in our day-to-day jobs.Jodina Grande, Lead Solutions Engineer
Today, the #mental-health-matters channel has empowered more than 2,500 employees to find support, knowledge and resources, including employee events and town halls, workflows for members willing to share their mental health status, and critical benefits like free therapy and mental fitness coaching.
Boosting employee wellbeing with structure and benefits
At the same time, Salesforce sharpened its focus on mental health and wellbeing. The company committed to surrounding employees with the right structure to build mental strength and resilience, layering on benefits to support their overall wellbeing.
“Employees must be well to do well,” said Abby Hollingsworth, Vice President of Global Employee Benefits at Salesforce. “We are committed to investing in benefits and programs to keep our employees and their families happy and healthy, so they can bring their best selves to work every day.”
We are committed to investing in benefits and programs to keep our employees and their families happy and healthy, so they can bring their best selves to work every day.Abby Hollingsworth, Vice President of Global Employee Benefits
The company is focused on providing inclusive therapy and coaching, equipping managers with the right tools to support their teams, opening up access to mental health benefits globally, and normalizing mental health in the workplace through company-wide Mental Health town halls.
“One of the Salesforce benefits I’ve found most useful is BetterUp coaching, which has given me resources like preventative mental health care, dedicated mental fitness coaches, and interactive workshops to help me grow professionally,” Grande said.
Salesforce employees also have access to tools and trainings to help navigate mental health conversations in the workplace, which Grande leverages for herself, her team, and in the management of the Slack channel.
“Mental health and wellbeing remains an important part of our high performance culture,” added Hollingsworth. “When you improve employees’ minds, you improve productivity and ultimately improve business outcomes. It’s just that simple.”
- Read this post on our five-pronged approach to mental health
- Read more about Salesforce employees and mental health benefits here
- Learn why mental health is so important — and how to manage it — by taking this Trail