“An initiative like this brings mental health to the forefront and out into the open, so it is safer to feel like you can be yourself. You may also be able to connect with others who are struggling with similar issues. I connected with at least two coworkers about mental illness with whom I had never discussed that issue before.”
– Bethany Brownholtz, Senior Copywriter
At Level Ex, the overall health of our community and our world is of utmost importance to us. “Mental health is all too often ignored, dismissed, and trivialized and mental health is stigmatized by society with disastrous consequences,” Sam Glassenberg, our CEO and founder, shared in a message to the team. He has witnessed this on a very personal level and recognizes that many of us and our loved ones struggle with mental health, anxiety, and depression. So in an effort to raise awareness, provide support, and fight the stigma associated with the mental health continuum, we dedicated the month of May to mental health awareness. The Level Ex community came together to create and participate in activities and content for every day of the month providing resources, tools, and a safe space for everyone to be their authentic selves.
“Mental health issues are stigmatized and yet are prevalent. Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experience mental illness in a given year. This means at a company of our size, there are probably at least 30 people experiencing mental illness,” explains Senior Copywriter Bethany Brownholtz, a culture ambassador for the event. Because of this stigma, many people who suffer feel forced to do so in silence—afraid to reach out for help or ashamed to be seen struggling. Bill Sabram, Game Director, reflects on this sentiment: “40+ years ago, my Mother had breast cancer and it was just not something you talked about back then. There was a lot of shame. You could not even say the word ‘breast’ in public! Contrast that with today, where people go on fundraising walks to raise money for breast cancer research, and people rally around a friend or loved one that is battling breast cancer. I believe one day we will be able to openly talk about our mental health issues, and get that community support that makes so much of a difference in our treatment and recovery. I just hope it does not take 40+ years to reach that point!”
Creating a Safe Space
Kicking off a month-long series of events, Head of People and Culture Kami Bond shared a video to remind anyone experiencing stress, loneliness, anxiety, loss or depression: You are not alone.
Following that were activities for each day of the week:
Mindful Mondays led Level Ex’ers in meditation and gratitude practices.
Tasty Tuesdays consisted of “Lunch & Learns” discussing topics such as resiliency and the art of letting go.
Wellness Wednesdays encouraged healthy habits like hydrating and getting more sleep.
Thoughtful Thursdays offered methods and tools for overcoming obstacles and dealing with stress.
Fact Fridays shared ideas for continued support and education, including crowdsourced resources from the Level Ex community.
Cheers to hydration! Level Ex’ers started each meeting by raising a glass of H20 during the “Wellness Water Challenge.”
Game Designer Jacob Mooney and Director of Information Technology Colette Custin led a “Lunch & Learn” introducing 8 habits of resilient people. “Everyone who attended had great tips on how to overcome even the most intense stressors. It was an awesome opportunity to hear from members of the Level Ex community. It opened my eyes to the fact that our community here at Level Ex is one that is truly caring and thoughtful,” Colette shared. Jacob added, “Level Ex’ers surprised me with their willingness to come forward and talk about things that bother them or that help them in times when staying resilient is key.”
Many Level Ex’ers commented on the usefulness of the practices and resources that were shared throughout the month. “The resources Level Ex’ers came up with could really help you make time for your wellness on a daily or weekly basis without it feeling like a burden. You have everything from crafting/baking, to reading powerful books, to yoga,” explained Bethany. She continued, “The different levels of resources inspire me to invest in my wellness more. You tend to forget things like drinking more water, taking walks, and getting enough sleep can improve your quality of life. There were so many good reminders. I haven’t made habits of all of them yet, but awareness is always the first step!”
Continuing the Conversation
May was a great opportunity for us to recommit to mental health—especially in light of the added stress this last year caused for so many of us. Working from home can make it difficult to feel connected with your team, but coming together to plan and execute events like this has the added benefit of building community and closer bonds. Colette reflected, “The planning process for Mental Health Awareness month was an excellent opportunity for me as a new employee to connect with other Level Ex’ers that I don’t normally get to interact with. That was my favorite part of the whole experience.”
Studies show that employees who see nature from their office spaces like their jobs more, enjoy better health, and report greater life satisfaction. Level Ex’ers wear green to remind one another of the color’s positive effects on mental health.
We are committed to continuing to look for ways we can support all facets of wellness in our community. Level Ex’ers crowdsourced many great ideas to keep the momentum of mental health awareness month going throughout the rest of the year, and we are putting structures in place to see that it happens. We also have a wealth of resources currently available to employees that some of us may not be using to our full advantage. “We should remind people every quarter that there are mental health resources available through our benefits programs. It’s easy to hear about these benefits at the end of the year, and then forget them when you really need them,” Jacob said.
“This initiative was especially important to us because we wanted to respond directly to the needs of our team. Earlier this year, Level Ex’ers had indicated heightened levels of stress as the effects of the pandemic continued to take their toll. Many of our events, resources, and conversations were a direct response to this identified need,” explained Kami Bond, Head of People and Culture. She continued, “We want our employees to genuinely feel that Level Ex is a safe place where they can be their authentic selves, build trusted relationships, and access the right resources when they need help.”
Want to be part of a team that makes mental health a priority? Check out our open positions.