Raising Mental Health Awareness: VeriSIM Life’s Jo Varshney Shares Strategies for Fostering a Supportive Workplace

by Jerome Knyszewski
Jo Varshney

In the dynamic intersection of business acumen and employee well-being, our interview series, “Entrepreneurial Perspectives: Cultivating a Culture of Workplace Mental Health,” takes center stage. As we engage with innovative entrepreneurs, we unravel their unique insights into recognizing early signs of mental health concerns, facilitating open conversations, and harnessing the power of education to foster an environment that prioritizes mental wellness. Embark on this journey with us to discover how these leaders are redefining success by nurturing the minds that drive their organizations forward.

Name: Jo Varshney
Company: VeriSIM Life

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Table of Contents

What are some key strategies for organizations to identify and address early signs of mental health issues among employees? Share your insights and experiences on implementing proactive measures.

Jo Varshney: Stay connected. Sounds simple, but if your organization is 100% remote like ours it’s a lot harder to do. Connection goes well beyond daily check-ins on Slack, or frequent Zoom meetings. Connection means knowing where your employees are at in relation to their responsibilities and their engagement with your company’s mission and their wellbeing.

It requires providing them opportunities to engage with the broader team, not just a supervisor and departmental peers. At VeriSIM Life, one way we try to provide connection is through our Friday afternoon Happy Hour. Our Happy Hour is not a drinking session. It’s an hour where we all gather on Zoom and play a game.

Gratitude. Research shows that gratitude brings happiness and better mental health. We also try to emphasize gratitude as a corporate value. And at the end of our Happy Hour game, we each take 5 minutes and post a message in our #happy-hour Slack channel about what we are thankful for that week. Team members thank each other for little collaborations and contributions that have occurred in the days previous.

We’ve learned that participation in each of these practices helps us stay healthy and productive. And we’ve also learned that differences from a teammate’s typical engagement can be a sign of something worth exploring.

How can companies create a supportive environment for employees to openly discuss mental health and seek help when needed? Share examples of successful communication and resources that have made a difference in your organization.

Jo Varshney: Again, this is so hard in a remote environment. But the best approach is to start with safety. No one who is dealing with mental health challenges will be comfortable seeking employer resources if there’s concern about privacy, confidentiality, or judgment. Relatability is also a critical factor, and to address this, we are intentional about having diverse individuals in key positions. 

What role can training and education play in fostering mental health awareness in the workplace? Share your experience with impactful workshops, seminars, or training programs that have contributed to a better understanding and support of mental health among employees.

Jo Varshney: As a small company, it is difficult to find budget for training on mental health and awareness. But we do require managers to be trained on creating a safe environment for employees to share their concerns and needs. We remind employees about safe spaces not only via their managers, but also through other channels of communication and resource-empowered individuals.

Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to WellnessVoice and the host of this interview would like to thank Jo Varshney for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.

If you would like to get in touch with Jo Varshney or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page

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