May is Mental Health Awareness Month and in honor of it the Clackamas County Business Alliance is presenting “Mental Health in the Workplace – Changing the Corporate Culture” Featuring Speakers Jennifer Pepin and John Boylston, J.D. at their April Breakfast Forum.
Mental illness is a silent epidemic — and it’s affecting America’s workplaces. Untreated mental illnesses costs the US at least $105 billion in lost productivitiy annually, according to research by Harvard University Medical School.
1 in 4 adults will experience a diagnosable mental illness in any given year yet fewer than 50% of them receive treatment. Despite the availability of effective interventions, 3 out of 5 individuals with a mental illness do not receive any treatment but treatment works.
When employees receive effective treatment for mental illnesses, the result is lower total medical costs, increased productivity, lower absenteeism and decreased disability costs. The bottom line: investing in a mentally healthy workforce is good for business.
Unfortunately, few feel safe to acknowledge their struggles – especially to employers. Many don’t seek help because they fear judgment and discrimination. We need to change the culture of fear, isolation and discrimination and create workplaces of understanding, compassion and inclusion where no one will fear discrimination for suffering from a mental illness and everyone who needs care will receive it.
About our speakers:
Jennifer Pepin was born to an attorney and ballerina and discovered a passion for both art and business. After graduating from University of Southern California, she worked in sales and marketing for the food and beverage industry. During that time, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. While she was figuring out what it meant for her life, she discovered the lack of understanding within the companies she worked for. Although accommodations may be made for someone with a physical ailment her new diagnosis gave her a label that companies did not support. She was faced with a lack of compassion that eventually drove her out of the corporate world to open her own business fighting the stigma she faced.
Located in Portland OR, she opened J. Pepin Art Gallery. The gallery features artists, including herself, that are living with a mental illness. It is reframing the perception of mental illness by exhibiting the work of professional artists alongside stories of their creative journey. She has been awarded the “Pathfinder Award” by National Alliance of Mental Illness Multnomah, the Mental Health Hero” Award by Trillium Family Services, and the Hope Bringer Award by ASHA International, as well as been featured in news stories for her work to fight stigma.
John Boylston is an attorney, not in spite of his mental health condition, but potentially because of it. John was not diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Dysthymia until he had already been practicing law for a few years. Upon seeking treatment and learning of his diagnosis, however, John realized that he had been suffering most of his life.
Lawyers are hired to examine every detail, think ten steps ahead, and see potential risks that others might miss. But John realized that he couldn’t “turn it off” when he went home for the day. He was being suffocated by the anxiety. It got so debilitating that he was ready to quit his job and leave everything behind, but he agreed to see a counselor first. After two years of regular therapy and medication for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Dysthymia, John manages his anxiety, but it is something he will always live with and it still affects his daily life.
It is often hard and complicated for attorneys to address mental health conditions, because there are elements of anxiety that are seen as a good trait in a lawyer. John wants to raise awareness about mental health conditions for attorneys, and other professionals, so that they can learn how to separate themselves from their work while learning healthy habits to combat the excess stress and anxiety that comes with the profession.
Thank you to our sponsor ASHA International.
ASHA International’s mission is to promote personal, organizational, and community wellness through mental health education, training and support. And, their vision is to create communities of acceptance, empathy and inclusion where every man, woman and child living with a mental health condition finds the love and support they need to realize their fullest potential. To learn more about ASHA International’s programs and impact, please visit www.myasha.org