“Today I decided that I don’t want to live anymore” – Marie Claire Magazine

Mafoane Odara (Photo: Reproduction/Instagram)

The title phrase was the one Jully posted on Facebook 4 years ago. This led a former co-worker to drive around the city, from Copacabana to the Caju neighborhood, knocking on her door and saying: “I’m here to give you a hug”. She ended up staying and cooked a mushroom risotto for Jully.

A psychiatrist who also saw her post responded, saying that she should go to a session without having to pay. Jully went.

Thanks to these contacts, Jully found the help she needed. She is among the millions of people struggling with mental health problems around the world, a struggle exacerbated by the covid-19 pandemic as we are surrounded by death, disease and forced to isolate ourselves. This month, as we observe World Mental Health Day, we have the opportunity to speak more about these issues, to break through the stigmas that surround them and to help those who need them most.

We need connection, we need to feel that we belong, and this need becomes even more evident during a prolonged crisis, when our feelings and emotions are raw. We feel lost, unable to control our environment, having difficulty concentrating, full of anguish and obsession.

The research Paths in Mental Health, carried out this year by Instituto Cactus in partnership with Instituto Veredas, shows that up to 80% of the population can develop psychiatric problems such as self-mutilation, interpersonal conflict or attempted suicide. Children are also at high risk, missing school and being victims of growing domestic violence, aggravated by the pandemic.

At these times, we can and must do more. In this context, I have seen companies advancing and providing resources to their employees. On Facebook, the mental health program covers, for example, unlimited therapy sessions, financial support to take care of the body and mind, incentive to study, as well as internal support groups and benefits for mothers and for care and cognitive development and emotional feelings of children. These workplace initiatives are helping to create safe emotional spaces for people and putting mental health at the center of the debate.

Every day, we have seen news dealing with the topic of mental health, but even with the growth of debates about how our post-pandemic will be, we still face many challenges, stigmas and prejudices about the topic. To name just a few, there is the difficulty in understanding and naming the different manifestations of psychic suffering (and, consequently, the difficulty in asking for help, the judgments of family, friends and co-workers); the lack of preparation to work the theme; and institutional attempts to create standardized solutions for a process that manifests itself in a very particular way in each individual.

All of these listed challenges show that we have not yet managed to integrate mental health as part of the comprehensive health discussion, and one of the obstacles to the debate is that we still see health as the absence of disease, rather than the state of the most complete physical well-being. , mental and social, as indicated by the World Health Organization.

According to PhD and author of the book “The 4 stages of psychological safety,” Timothy R. Clark, psychological safety is built through a four-stage progression: People need to feel 1. Included, which means seeing others equal to them in their environment at all levels; 2. Secure and open to learning; 3. Encouraged to contribute and take risks; and, 4. Willing to question the status quo. It is important to understand this construction as a progression, so we need to evolve the level of psychological safety at each stage so that we can move on to the next.

Personally and professionally, I myself have suffered in the past. Once, when I was fired, I saw my career shake. I was growing up, my career was evolving and I wasn’t prepared for this moment. I felt like an imposter, a fraud, as if everything I had done so far was a lie. This feeling affected my body. With a newborn baby, I felt my milk was drying up. All of this made me feel that not only had I failed professionally, but I was now failing at the most important job of my life. I don’t believe in luck, but I can say I got a present. The firing was accompanied by a process of self-discovery guided by a mentor who helped me overcome the imposter syndrome and reframe the situation so that I could take the next step. In my case, the connection was also critical.

Jully had been hiding her depression behind a mask since 2016. This hampered her small business as a trancuista. There were days when she just couldn’t face the world. She broke down in tears all the time. She had withered, never spoke, never smiled.

Treatment with the psychiatrist who reached out through social media helped to take her away from this dark place. But this is a constant battle. She still has bad days where she can’t face the world, but now she’s able to manage her needs. She keeps her business on track and has made herself available to others who struggle like her, is part of networks of entrepreneurs and trains vulnerable new trancans so they can earn income and find their healing paths.

Today, Jully spends hours with her clients and gives them the space they need to talk. She knows the importance of connection, the need to talk about mental health issues and remove the taboo. She also discusses this online, creating content on her Instagram to generate a community of hope. “I tell them, ‘I’m not a psychiatrist, but I can offer comfort and a hug.’”

In the end, I have said that the next revolution we will experience will be the revolution of relationships. Taking care of mental health is not just a health agenda, it is above all a tool for the transformation of relationships and business evolution, because all work is about and for people. All technologies and products are about and for people. The entire market, all of life, friendships, hobbies, it’s all about how we relate to people.

*Mafoane Odara is Facebook Human Resources Leader for Latin America