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Why I Lead "Paving the Way to CIED" with Mental Health


This photo is a picture of Sarai Romero, the Lead Civility, Inclusion, Equity and Diversity Training Consultant with Purpose-Filled Solutions and Evolutions LLC.
Sarai Romero, Lead Civility, Inclusion, Equity & Diversity Training Consultant

My former Braven leadership coach, who offered me an internship, approached me with an exciting project as part of that opportunity – developing a training program on Inclusion, Equity and Diversity. Before starting the project, the first question she asked me was how I would lead the program and what was most important to me - would I lead with Race, Gender, Ethnicity, or something else? My answer came to me quickly. After some thought and research I told her that mental health was my priority. She smiled and said "OK!" Spoiler Alert - not only did I complete the internship, she offered me a consulting position, which led to me being promoted me to Lead CIED Training Consultant.

The impact of COVID-19 had drastically changed people's lives, and with most companies going fully or partially remote, people were spending more time isolated from friends and family. My own family was affected by the pandemic and the idea of going out into the world filled me with anxiety. It was clear that advocating for mental health was crucial at this time.

Growing up in a religious Latino household came with its own set of challenges, especially when it came to mental health. My parents believed that prayer was the solution to any mental health issue and that depression was not a real condition – it was a matter of not praying hard enough. This was always difficult for me to accept, and it became even more challenging when I mentioned my cousin's depression, and my parents dismissed it as mere laziness. As an adult, I've had many conversations with my mother about mental health, but after experiencing postpartum depression along with seasonal depression, I realized that there is still a lot of work to be done to change these beliefs.

I mention my parents and my background because I imagine that just like in my home, a lot of people of color were also treated the same when it came down to mental health and talking about their mental health or lack of. Not only is mental health stigmatized in my own community, but there's also a lack of resources. A lot of the people that I know, whether it be friends or family members, can't afford to go to therapy. There is also a huge disconnect.

People want to feel heard, seen, and understood. Although times are progressing, there are not a lot of people of color who are therapists or LGBTQ+ friendly places that are within people's means. This is where companies can make an impact and ensure that their employees are receiving the help that they need. This means putting in the work and making sure that there is a variety of therapists that can fit the needs of the employee. People that have gone most of their lives not being heard or seen need familiarity. They need those that are helping them to understand their life experiences. No amount of school can teach that.

It's important to acknowledge that mental health is not a one-size-fits-all issue. It's even more crucial to note that mental health struggles are not limited to one group of people. Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues can affect anyone, regardless of their background or ethnicity. However, it's also important to recognize that people of color face unique challenges when it comes to mental health. The stigma surrounding mental health in these communities, coupled with a lack of resources and representation, can make it difficult for individuals to seek help when they need it most.

Employers can take steps to address these issues and ensure that their employees have access to the support they need. This can include providing mental health resources and benefits, such as therapy or counseling, and making sure that these resources are accessible and affordable. It can also mean creating a safe and inclusive workplace culture that encourages open dialogue about mental health and provides support for those who are struggling.

It's no secret that there's a stigma surrounding mental health, and unfortunately, it seems to be even more prevalent when it comes to men. Society has perpetuated this idea that men should be strong and tough, and any vulnerability or admission of struggling with mental health is seen as weakness. This attitude not only prevents men from seeking help when they need it but also perpetuates harmful stereotypes and prevents progress in the fight for mental health awareness and advocacy.

It's important to remember that mental health affects everyone, regardless of gender, and we need to create safe spaces for men to talk about their struggles and receive the help they need without judgment or shame. By including men in these conversations and advocating for their mental health needs, we can work towards breaking down harmful stereotypes and creating a more inclusive, supportive society.

Ultimately, it's up to all of us to prioritize mental health and work towards creating a world where everyone has access to the resources and support they need to thrive. By breaking down stigma and creating safe spaces for open conversation, we can help ensure that no one feels alone or unsupported in their mental health journey.

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