No, that isn’t just clickbait, I promise – my goal really is to put myself out of business as soon as possible! Before I explain, let me offer a bit of context for those who don’t know me…
My journey to this point has been long, winding, and at times rough. It has included facing open heart surgery to correct a nerve defect at 12 years old. It also included the sudden onset of bipolar disorder at 26 years old, and then realizing that the stigma associated with mental illnesses made the challenge exponentially worse. It took me nearly 3 years to overcome stigma, both internal and external, and learn how to manage my illness.
Once I had overcome the fact that my mental illness was treated completely differently than my physical illness, I realized I had a rare an important opportunity to help others by sharing my experiences.
At first, I delivered keynote lectures and workshops on mental illness and stigma as a volunteer. I spoke about my experiences with a brutal candor that, I believe, was needed to reach both those facing mental illness and stigma as well as those affected indirectly. The response was clear: there was a desperate need for clarity on this subject.
So I kept talking.
The effort did not match the impact
After several years as a volunteer mental health advocate and stigma fighter, in 2015 I transitioned to a professional with a successful business focused on helping clients eliminate mental illness stigma in the workplace. I offered services as a consultant that included workshops, keynote speeches, policy review and research.
However, I encountered a problem. Working with companies of all sizes over those years, and always in person, it became clear that the work I was doing was simply not going to reach enough people. Also, as someone living with bipolar disorder who has to carefully manage energy output, the schedule was too gruelling and taxing for me to sustain. A change was needed.
With this in mind, I looked for help and ultimately connected with Rylan McKinley, now Co-Founder at StigmaZero. Rylan brings 15+ years of sales and marketing experience, has built and lead high-growth teams – and most recently founded a successful digital marketing agency. He also understands the importance of ending the stigma still surrounding mental illness in the workplace, and believes that companies have the responsibility to offer safe and inclusive work environments for all their employees. A perfect fit for me, and for StigmaZero.
Rylan and I decided the way to have the greatest impact was to build an online training academy which would make it easy for everyone to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to truly eliminate stigma. An online academy would streamline the training process for employees in remote environments, in offices spread across the country, or in demanding work environments where shift work was required. Traditionally in all of these environments, live training is logistically challenging. We needed to offer an option where businesses could schedule the learning at their own pace, in the location of their choosing.
Making a great idea a reality
Although I knew this was a good idea and the right decision, I was still nervous facing the reality of what we were taking on. I knew that developing my knowledge base into a fully-fledged online training program was a massive investment both in time and finances.
Also, I wanted to ensure that any online training would have the same high level of impact as the live training sessions and consulting I was delivering. To avoid any loss in quality, we understood that we would need expert help to ensure this project was done the right way, factoring in the best practices of how people learn, education technology, engagement and production.
After an in-depth search, this led us to Pure & Applied, an education technology and learning design firm who helped us develop our Create Your StigmaZero Workplace Program found within our Academy. P&A served as principal learning designers, and played a vital role in the production process. Their ability to take all of my knowledge, research, activities and blend it into an online program that keeps employees engaged was exactly what we were looking for.
We also engaged 5 Pound Media, a Montreal-based media agency who produced all the video and graphics for our program. As anyone who enrols in our Academy will see, their work is absolutely top-tier.
The StigmaZero Online Training Academy
After over a year and countless hours of research, planning and preparation, I am thrilled to officially launch The StigmaZero Online Training Academy! Our new Academy is designed to help us fulfil our mission to help employers eliminate stigma in the workplace and, ultimately, achieve our vision of a future without stigma.
We achieve this through our 6-module program,Create Your StigmaZero Workplace, which has 3 tracks: employees, managers and HR/Senior Leadership. The lessons feature video guides, tools and tips, individual and/or group activities, key takeaways, downloadable resources, curated content and much more. Our content is accessible, entertaining, informative and impactful – and makes for an engaging learning experience.
Labour of love
This process has been a long one, and in particular the weeks leading up to this launch have been an enormous amount of hard work, but I am so proud of what we have produced.The StigmaZero Online Training Academy provides workforces with the training and tools needed to better respond to mental illness and, ultimately, eliminate stigma. Our goal is for everyone to be better prepared to minimize the impact of stigma, as well as the associated costs and lost productivity.
I need your help
I need your help to get the word out to as many people as possible who can benefit from this training, which is so desperately needed right now. Please share this blog with your colleagues, friends and associates.
- If you are a business owner, executive or HR leader, I invite you to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can explore how our Create Your StigmaZero Workplace program may be able to help your company.
- If you know any leaders in the business community that would be interested in this, have them reach out to me at email@example.com.
- If you simply want to learn more, visit our website www.stigmazero.com or comment below and we can connect.
By now you have likely figured out why I want to be out of business – because without any stigma there is no need for StigmaZero. I hope we can get there as quickly as possible.
If you would like to learn more about how your company can better respond to workplace mental illness and stigma, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit our website at www.stigmazero.com.
Founder of StigmaZero, Author & Instructor of the Create Your StigmaZero Workplace Program
I founded StigmaZero to help employers address the complex and challenging reality of mental illness stigma. We offer companies an innovative solution: our Create Your StigmaZero Workplace online program, which is designed to eliminate the negative impacts that stigma can have on your culture as well as the cost of lost productivity. This program creates real, lasting impact on your company’s ability to manage mental illness and stigma.