Utah Leads the Charge to Break Down Mental Health Stigmas
This article was published in the Winter 2021 issue
by Amelia Wilcox, Founder and CEO, Zenovate
Something magical is happening in Utah. Have you noticed it? I’m not talking about the tech company unicorns that seem to be exponentially multiplying. But there is a movement brewing in Utah that’s going to change the world.
We know COVID-19 injured a lot of businesses (including my own company, Incorporate Massage that went from $6M to $0 in 10 days), and we know political and social issues threaten to rip us apart as a community. The list of things in our world begging us to let the darkness seep in seems to never end.
But has anyone noticed the glaring silver lining in all of this?
I have. It started with my own employees talking to me about their mental health challenges with everything going on – at work and in the world. Then I started sharing my own mental health struggles with friends, family and coworkers. Next, our clients started talking to us about their employees’ emerging mental health needs. So, as a company, we pivoted into mental health to meet that need. Zenovate now provides a mental health platform providing proactive care and teletherapy to businesses like Homie, Lendio and Venafi here in Utah, as well as all over the U.S.
With that pivot, I started speaking up on LinkedIn and at wellness events to share stories, statistics, information, and resources on mental health. And I was met with an overwhelming response – private DMs sharing very personal stories, invitations to speak at more events, people sharing their stories on LinkedIn because they read my stories.
It was through sharing my story that I met Nick Stagge, CEO at VidArmy and invited him to participate in our free Founder’s Anxiety Group. It’s a group of founders who meet each week to work with a licensed counselor in group therapy.
During one session, Nick told me, “I used poker chips to help manage my anxiety. But when co-workers asked me what they were for, I told them I had a gambling problem. It was easier for me to admit to a fake gambling problem than have people knowing I struggle with anxiety and depression. When I finally stepped out of silence, it was as if a weight had been lifted because I could just be me. It changed my life.”
Since then, Nick Stagge and VidArmy Co-Founder, Levi Lindsay founded Mind. to surface mental health through community, conversation, and cause. Mind. has also partnered with us at Zenovate to put together a program to provide mental health treatment for people who can’t afford it.
The silver lining in our current world, however dismal it may seem at times, is that talking about mental health is becoming normal. Leaders like Johnny Hanna, CEO of Homie, and Kory Stevens, CEO of Taft are speaking out publicly and letting their teams (and the rest of us) know that it’s ok not to be ok.
This sharing creates a virtuous cycle - the more we talk about it, the more everyone talks about it. Talking about it is the key to normalizing mental health care and de-stigmatizes mental health challenges, leading more people to getting the help they need.
I am proud to say that here in Utah there are so many of us leading the movement trying to solve this problem. In the mental health space, Blunovus, Tava Health and Zenovate are all working to educate employers, managers and employees about mental health, and give them access to people who are trained to help employees overcome those challenges.
Local organizations have popped up like KeepOn: and Stele, apparel brands promoting self-love and self-care to reduce stigma around mental health. And Room Here, which is working to raise mental health awareness and invites people to share their stories and come together in community.
I’ve never, in any industry or vertical, come across a community of people so passionate and so united in purpose as in the mental health space. I’m so inspired by the people all around me - it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Utah is leading the charge to change the world for the better. Come, join us. Share your story.
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*Read the latest issue of Silicon Slopes Magazine, Winter 2021