It goes without saying that the recent months have been more challenging than ever for our mental and emotional health. From dealing with COVID-19 where we all collectively grieve the normal we’ve lost to the absolute insurmountable pain the black community has to face tied to tragedies such as George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Tayler and countless others. It has been, and is, challenging to find space for our mental health and well-being when there’s barely room to take a pause.

RollAble, NextRoll’s Employee Resource Group

Given the current circumstances, creating a community for our Rollers (employees) to support each other through these difficult times has become increasingly important. RollAble, NextRoll’s Employee Resource Group for our Rollers who experience mental or physical health challenges, looked at a few ways on how we can support one another to foster mental well-being which led us to introduce our ‘Mental Well-being Peer Program’.

What is the Mental Well-being Peer Program?

The mental well-being peer program is a step program that leverages the curriculum and course content provided by Yale professor, Laurie Santos who is a Professor of Psychology and Head of Silliman Residential College at Yale University. “The Science of Well-Being” spans across 6 weeks of learning and 4 weeks of practicing healthy habits regularly. The program takes our Rollers on a weekly journey to learn about our misconceptions of happiness, why we have these misconceptions, and provides tools that foster mental well-being such as gratitude, kindness, and meditation. While many of us are aware that adopting healthy habits such as these benefits us, it’s still hard to practice them consistently. RollAble looked into how we can encourage each other to go through the program together and create a community around fostering well-being. We saw an opportunity to match participants to a peer to go on the journey with them to not only introduce a sense of accountability but more than anything, create support. Besides having a peer that goes on this journey with you, we’re also providing a list of free resources to leverage each week such as tools that provide meditation tracks, exercises, sleep stories, and more. 

Why did we choose this program?

There are a lot of gaps in the mental health system, especially for minority groups such as the Black-, Latinx, and LGBTQ+ communities. Beyond gaps in the system itself, mental health is still heavily stigmatized. In the US alone 1 in 5 US Americans struggle with some mental health condition, while 1 in 25 struggle with a severe mental health condition but more than half (56%) of US Americans don’t seek out help. As a company with over 500 people that are currently going through more than just one crisis, we knew that we had to take steps in the right direction. While we can’t fix the system or the associated stigma overnight, we looked into how we can empower our employees to take mental well-being into their own hands while creating a support system to not only normalize and destigmatize mental health but move towards making it an integral part of our culture.

We chose the Science of Well Being curriculum since it doesn’t only educate us that our concept of happiness is flawed, it provides us with scientifically proven, accessible and tangible methods and tools to foster mental health and well-being. The course introduces tools that several studies found to be effective in reducing work stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms, to be as effective as taking medication and increased productivity at work. While this course does not replace medical treatment by trained medical providers or our commitment to making sure we can make medical treatment accessible, we see it as a supportive and preventative tool to foster our mental health in an ongoing manner.

What is our hopeful outcome?

As a result of the course, we hope to have equipped our Rollers with a practical toolkit of healthy habits they can apply in their day-to-day life to foster their well-being and build increased resilience. Beyond the toolkit, we also hope that the course enables building a community around mental health and well-being that opens up conversation, educates, and provides support for one another.

We’re about to enter our first cohort of the mental well-being peer-program with an overall of 30 participants and can’t wait to share what we’ve learned, how we intend to evolve the program over time, and the impact it has on our culture and employees.