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Why did you decide to share your own story at the 2019 Concordia Annual Summit? Why this platform?

People are finally recognizing the prevalence and seriousness that mental health challenges pose around the world. However, it’s incredibly rare for a person in a position of power to admit they are struggling or have struggled, and while I’ve spoken about my work in the public sector, I wanted to use the opportunity to speak at Concordia – which brings together some of the most powerful people in the world – as a platform to start a conversation on mental health in a way that the typical CEO would not. I’ve learned that it’s only when we are vulnerable enough to share our own experiences that we can inspire others to do the same, and what the world needs right now is more people talking openly and vulnerably about mental health. As an executive it’s not easy to do that, but as I said at Concordia: our silence solves nothing.

In your speech at #Concordia19, you spoke about the work-obsessed society we now inhabit and how burying your internal struggles with work only worsened your mental health. There are countless high-functioning, successful people suffering in silence – in hindsight, what would you have done differently?

I would have recognized sooner that I had a problem to start with. Workaholism is so accepted and even encouraged that most people – especially high-achievers – don’t even realize what we are doing, both to ourselves as individuals and society at large. Instead, we are rewarded for the behavior with success, more money, promotions, and other things. I want to help change the narrative: to say that working hard and chasing success is a good thing, but that it shouldn’t come at the expense of mental health – and, in fact, that it doesn’t have to, if we are more aware of those challenges. There are ways to be healthier and still very successful; we just have to explore what that looks like.

How can we encourage others to destigmatize conversations around mental health?

It’s simple: we have to talk about it. Mental health does not discriminate and it affects every single human being alive today. I have also found that a lot of mental health issues actually come from trauma that occurs throughout our lives. Trauma is part of being human. We can’t escape it. Helping each other heal our trauma and see that link between trauma and mental health is how we embrace our humanity. It brings us together in the most profound ways and if we talk about what we’ve gone through and how mental health affects us, our families and our lives we can start to finally destigmatize it. I hope that sharing my story will help others take that first brave step forward.

As an entrepreneur and brand strategist, how can the private sector work to improve mental health for their employees?

I believe in leadership from the top, and encourage leaders in the C-suite to embrace an honest and holistic understanding of mental health – and to ensure they are providing adequate mental health services and resources to their employees. Companies that make mental health and wellness part of their culture are actually so much more successful, because their employees are much happier, more communicative about issues both personally and professionally, healthier, and more productive. Seeking growth and profits narrowly without thinking about the well-being of the employees who drive that growth is short-sighted, unproductive, and something that every business should be avoiding. I think that entrepreneurs and CEOs have both a huge responsibility and an incredible opportunity to change the workplace culture around mental health; we can make such a difference, and actually be more successful too.

Learn more about Beth Doane’s work at http://www.bethdoane.com/bio and https://www.main-rose.com/
and click here to watch her poignant speech, “A New State of Mind,” at the 2019 Concordia Annual Summit.