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  • Pam Ray

The #1 Tool for breaking through the STIGMA around mental health is to START THE CONVERSATION

Not everyone needs a therapist But EVERYONE Needs to Feel Understood.

HOW do we start the conversation? We share a story. We listen. We seek to understand. It can be on a walk with a friend, as part of an SEL (Social Emotional Learning) initiative in our schools, a community gathering, an HR program or any combination of 1+1 or greater.

We all have a story. Let me share mine. “Listening from the Heart” evolved from an initiative co-created with my daughter during the depths of her battle with anxiety in 2018, and following her freshman year of college. We tried to tackle it within our family and with the support of friends but -in the throes of exhaustion from my own worries about her- I realized that:

  • As a parent, I didn't know how to help her.

  • She didn't know what to ask for.

  • And, that teachers were seeing these kinds of anxieties play out -not just in college and high school students but also in middle school and elementary school children as well.

Our 2018 program, “The Anxious Generation: Fireside Chats" was a proactive, courageous, and emotional experience. We weren't looking for a silver bullet. We just wanted to provide an opportunity for students, parents/family, and teachers to open the door and begin to understand each other. We simply wanted to help each other take the next step or ask the next question. And that is what we did!

We Started with 1 Question:

WHAT is it that YOU want us to know?

Then, we listened.

THEN Came the 2020+ Global Pandemic

THE HUMAN IMPACT of the global pandemic is the acceleration of this kind of mental health crisis. Now, every workforce and educational system across our globe is experiencing the storm of COVID-19 and its dramatic impact on mental health challenges, not just for some, but for all.

This crisis is taking a toll on the economic success of our workforce and on student success. There are huge costs to ignoring this reality. They are economic (in the trillions), cultural, social, and human.

Make today a turning point for leadership to shine a light on mental health issues for your employees, teachers, students, family and community.

Break through the STIGMA by using the #1 tool – start the conversation. Let others know they are not alone. Share stories. Create spaces for listening with a repeatable process that promotes collaboration at home, school, and work. Ask: What is it you want me/us to know? And then, Listen from the Heart!

Join me as we continue this conversation in a 4-Part Series on "Tuesday's at Two" (2pm). In your roles as family members (that's all of us), educator, or business leader, please come and share your experiences in starting the conversation - to help break through the stigma around mental health. We will share our stories, big or small, and help each other as we collectively learn how to ask the next question or take the next step. The series begins on Tuesday, September 7 and is an audio-only gathering via Zoom. Join for one or all of these community conversations.

10 New Pilot Program Partnerships in 6 months - that's my goal! Together, let's co-create a "Listening from the Heart" initiative for your employees, students, organization or community!



WATCH (Video created by my new friend Adam Zaks): Each day, each connection, each conversation strengthens our community of caring for each other. Give yourself this gift of 1 minute 42 seconds! (Published August 9, 2021)

READ (2-min read from my Blog): "Listening from the Heart: Sharing stories to jump-start the conversation." (Published April 6, 2020)

An INSPIRATION that I keep at eye-level on my wall:

"Every empowered story shared is a chance to make someone feel that they are not alone in their human journey...a chance to create connection in your community...a way to start a conversation." (Willow Soul)

Meet Pam! Her 40 year career success in public service, government relations and nonprofit leadership is rooted in collaboration, teamwork and empowering others to be their own best advocate. Combined with her passion as a parent to create a healthy and prosperous future for our children, she believes that Building Bridges is essential to take on a transformative time in our economy, education systems and workforce. "Listening from the Heart" is a component of the "Building STEAM Bridges: Head, Hands & Heart" program that is a whole person approach to learning and working in the 21st century economy.

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