Keith is a regular contributor to Bring Change 2 Mind’s blog, and to the Good Men Project. If you are interested in working with Keith feel free to reach out. Contact WL if you want to be a Guest Blogger.
Worth Living Ambassador Tylia Flores
Tylia Flores is a 23-year-old born with cerebral palsy. Although her condition has affected her mobility, it has never affected her will and determination to make a difference in the world. Through her many life challenges and obstacles, she discovered her passion for writing. Tylia’s goal in life is to share her stories with the world. In doing so, she hopes to help others with disabilities realize that they too have the potential to make their dreams come true.
How Writing Got Me Out of a Dark Place
I was 15 years old when my life changed forever. I was a freshman in high school and I didn’t know the direction I was going to go in life like any 15-year-old girl would be going through at that age.
The only difference with me is that I have other obstacles and challenges that make me unique. I was born with spastic cerebral palsy (CP) for short, but I had never allowed my disability to stop me from living an average life as a human being.
As a teenager, I was involved in many different sports like baseball and basketball and loved to travel the world as a kid, and I still do to this very day. I was always an overachiever in school always got straight A’s and B’s no matter what.
But once I got to high school, I had started having difficulty with my grades. I lost my childhood friend to a brain tumor. I was very lost and had a dark cloud over the head all the time and often blamed myself for my best friend’s cancer and it was hard for me to deal with.
I was lost in my battle with depression, but I didn’t go to counseling or anything like that. I just kept it silent as I was going through grief and pain and I didn’t say a thing about it to anyone. I faced it alone and every day I wondered where my life was going to in the next couple of years and how was I going to cope with everything going through at the time. In my freshman year, I barely passed any of my classes that year.
So, the summer comes along, and I was still struggling with depression. I was still lost in the clouds and then I went back to school. I started off on the wrong foot so my parents decided to home school me. I started to see that people that I thought were my friends weren’t. My boyfriend at the time dumped me on Valentine’s Day, so I found myself to be alone, and I couldn’t escape it. Until one day I was at the Branes and Noble store with my dad drinking a Starbucks coffee and I started to imagine myself signing books of my own. Then I went home and started to write the sentence of my book, James Ticking Time Bomb and got it published at age 16. I got my grades up and I was able to get out the dark place. I completed high school with a 3.7 GPA and now I’m in college. I advocate for cerebral palsy and mental illness since awareness needs to be brought to all things. I also thank writing for changing my life and giving me a purpose.
You can follow Tylia on her social media
Worth Living Ambassador & New England Lead Kim LaMontagne
I share my personal story of being a high functioning business woman balancing a career and family while fighting (and hiding) major depression, anxiety and persistent suicidal thoughts. By sharing my story, I help individuals find the courage, power and strength to accept and love who they are and rise above the fear, stigma and shame of mental illness and talk openly about it. I fought my battle alone because I was afraid of stigma. Especially in the workplace. No one should suffer alone.
Unaddressed Mental Health and Presenteeism in the Workplace: What Does Presenteeism Mean and How is it Affecting Your Bottom Line?
More than 14 million U.S. workers fall within the category and diagnostic criteria for substance dependence (Jacobson & Sacco, 2012) and millions more suffer from mental illness. Substance abuse, mental illness, and stigma in the workplace cost employers millions in “lost productivity, measured by increased absenteeism, workplace accidents and healthcare costs” (Jacobson & Sacco, 2012).
Additionally, stigma and mental illness negatively impacts other employees affecting workplace morale, productivity and outcomes.
Research reveals that mental health disorders, particularly depression, have a “staggering impact on business productivity in America, greater than physical disorders” (Harder et.al, 2014). This phenomenon has become more common in the workplace but is not well understood or supported. Untreated mental health is a public health concern.
In today’s complex and competitive business market, a company’s most important asset is human resources. “Efficient business relies on the health of the individual worker” (Ajunwa, et. al., 2016). A physically and mentally healthy worker means fewer sick days, decrease in short and long-term disability claims, more productivity and engagement, and less healthcare cost for the company. A mentally healthy workforce is better for the bottom line.
Organizational loss associated with mental health in the workplace is multipronged and includes “absenteeism, presenteeism, and turnover” (Harder, et. al., 2014). Absenteeism accounts for time off from work with no expectation of work responsibility. Among valid reasons for absenteeism, mental health conditions account for a 62.2% of days out of office and accounts for an estimated 7% of global payroll across organizations “which is more than any other disorder” (Harder, et.al., 2014). Although lost productivity and costs associated with absenteeism are staggering, an even costlier issue in the workplace is presenteeism.
Presenteeism is known as “the problem of workers being on the job but, because of illness or other medical conditions, not fully functioning” (Hemp, 2004). Presenteeism can cut individual productivity by one-third and can be even more costly than its counterpart absenteeism. Unlike absenteeism, presenteeism isn’t always apparent. It is simple to process the concept of absenteeism. When an employee is excused from work, productivity is not expected because they are not present. When presenteeism is introduced in the workplace, you often can’t tell “when—or how much—illness or a medical condition hinders someone’s performance” (Hemp, 2004). Presenteeism represents when the worker is there but is not being productive due to outside circumstances. Also known as the working wounded. In the United States alone, the costs associated with presenteeism are $180 billion per year compared to the $118 billion costs related to absenteeism” (Ammendola, et. al., 2016).
The cost and burden of mental health disorders is consistently found to supersede physical disorders when comparing direct (medical / pharmaceutical) and indirect (absenteeism / presenteeism) costs of each disorder. Mental health episodes requiring an employee to open a disability claim are typically longer than for other types of disorders (67 days vs. 33.8 days) (Harder, et. al., 2014). The average major depressive episode lasts for 26 weeks making it the “single leading cause of disability in the workplace” (Harder, et. al., 2014).
Although diagnoses such heart disease, diabetes, or cancer require a company to pay higher direct health care costs, illnesses such as depression and anxiety have lower direct costs. Unfortunately, they usually account for increased loss in productivity because “they are so prevalent, they so often go untreated and they typically occur during peak working years” (Hemp, 2014).
To build a healthier workplace, there must be a team approach to employee health and wellness. The adage of leave your problems at the door is a thing of the past. Since most employees experience major disruptive issues affecting their on the job performance, there must be a comprehensive top down organizational strategy to ensure proper management of employee health to increase retention and decrease healthcare costs. The role of the CEO and leadership within an organization is critical to supporting the success and implementation of a program to support the well-being of employees. When mental health is valued by leaders, appropriate resources become increasingly more available, employees are educated about the resources, usage increase and there is a substantial benefit to the organization and more importantly the bottom line.
Commitment to employee wellness is a topic of organizational discussion that is gaining increased interest in research. Research conducted by Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) shows organizational support to be an “important mediator in
presenteeism” (Garrow, 2016). Specifically, support from the top leadership that cascades throughout the culture of the organization. Business leaders have a duty to help reduce stigma in the workplace, develop a mental health strategy, and consider mental health as an ongoing educational process. This can be accomplished by investing in targeted actions that promote mental health such as workshops, employee education, frontline leader training in mental and collaboration with NAMI just to name a few. Leaders must feel empowered to make the changes required to build and sustain a mentally healthy workforce capable of increased productivity due to positive mental health. It’s good for the bottom line.
Ajunwa, I., Crawford, K. and Ford, J. (2016) Health and Big Data: An Ethical Framework for Health Information Collection by Corporate Wellness Programs, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine
Ammendola, C, Côté, P, Cancelliere, C, Cassidy, J, Hartvigsen, J, Boyle, E, Soklaridis, S, Stern, P, & Amick III, B., 2016, ‘Healthy and productive workers: using intervention mapping to design a workplace health promotion and wellness program to improve presenteeism’, BMC Public Health, 16, pp. 1-18.
Garrow, V. (2016) Presenteeism A review of current thinking, Institute for Employment Studies, Feb 2016, Report 507.
Harder, H, Wagner, S, Rash, J, 2014, Mental Illness in the Workplace.
Harder, H.G., Wagner, S.L., Rash, J.A., Mental Illness in the Workplace: Psychological Disability Management
Hemp, P. (2004) Presenteeism: At Work—But out of it, Harvard Business Review, Available at: https://hbr.org/2004/10/presenteeism-at-work-but-out-of-it.
Worth Living Ambassador and Co-Lead WL Running Amy Leon
Amy is a working single mom, diagnosed with Depression in 2011.
During her initial battle with Depression, Amy found her home with the running community. They provided support, comradery, and a place where she felt she belonged. This was true not only for the local community, but the online community as well. There was no judgement, as many of the people she met were fighting similar demons. During an injury in early 2014, she decided to start sharing her struggle with not being able to run and how that was playing out not only physically but mentally was well.
When her daughter was diagnosed with Depression/Anxiety in late 2017, the desire to continue the conversation regarding mental illness and mental health grew even more.
Amy shares her journey on social media through her blog Screaming Into the Void, as well as through other social media channels such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. She hopes that by keeping her journey available others will realize they are not alone. Getting the help you need does not make you weak, it shows how strong you are.
Why I Became a Worth Living Ambassador
I had been searching, over the past few years, for an organization that I could lend my voice to when it came to mental illness awareness.
I had contemplated many, and given my voice to certain campaigns, but something was lacking for me. The ups and downs with conversation about awareness started to wear me down, and once my daughter was diagnosed with mental illness, my desire to speak out became more important to me.
I “hit my wall” with depression in 2011, and have hit it twice more since that time. Both times going off of my medication when I “felt better” and was confident that I had the tools I needed.
I am not afraid to ask for help. Not like I was the first time. Now I know when I am not right. Now I know when my brain chemistry is off kilter. I am not ashamed to say I am medicated, even though my brain wants me to feel otherwise.
The big difference between now and 2011: I know my life is worth living.
Don’t get me wrong. I still have bad days, even medicated. I know that my medication is not going to make me 100%. That’s okay.
Each person experiences mental illness differently. My illness is different from my daughter’s, even though we have the same diagnosis.
Most people think that there is a “generic” way to feel with depression and anxiety, and while there are certain symptoms associated with those mental illnesses that are “generic”, everyone’s experience has differences.
Not that long ago, I saw a call for Ambassadors for Worth Living. I had been following this account for a few years, as I knew the founder. Knowing Keith Anderson (our families have been friends for what seems like forever, and I grew up calling his mom and dad my Aunt and Uncle), it was easy for me to reach out and say that I would LOVE to be a part of his movement, this organization. Bringing awareness to what we experience and speaking out to break the misconceptions about mental illness as an advocate is very important to me, so this is a fantastic fit.
Through Keith, I met up with Shannon Pierangeli (we have been following each other via social media and had no idea we were a part of this movement together, lol), and WL Running Ambassadors was born. I am super excited about this next step, and cannot wait to move ahead with the ideas Shannon and I have been chatting about.
They say you know when you’ve found your “place”.
I’ve found mine.
Please follow Amy on her social media
Facebook (new page): https://www.facebook.com/screamingin2thevoid/
Worth Living Director of Music & Official DJ Scratchley Q
Worth Living Top 10 Countdown – Creative Carnival
10. She’s a Carnival – Siouxsie and the Banshees
9. Carnival – Quintino
8. Carnival Drums – Olly James
7. Always Carnival Time – Kardinal Offishall ft. KES the Band & Quinn Marie
6. Carnival – Natalie Merchant
5. Carnival – Mikalyn ft. Shawn Brady
4. Carnival – Gorillaz ft. Anthony Hamilton
3. Carnival Hearts – Kayla Diamond
2. Carnival – Our Lady Peace
1. Carnival – Milan & Phoenix
Shannon Pierangeli, WL Director of Event Planning
Shannon is an event planner who focuses on creating event experiences for fitness and health-related businesses. A graduate of the University of Ottawa, she has a degree in Human Kinetics and a Bachelor of Education which allows her to combine her passion for fitness and health education as she inspires others to pursue an active lifestyle. Her website showcases her event history and features a blog addressing hot topics in the fitness and health industry. Shannon is an avid runner and will be launching a podcast called Run For Your Life with a Phoenix-based blogger, Melissa Kahn, which will share stories about the power of running and fitness in maintaining mental health.
Running Makes Life Worth Living
One of my Facebook memories for today came from 2011 when I ran my first Greenboro Run Club 5k practice run in 35 minutes. I feel like I’ve come a long way since that day, in more ways than just my pace.
When I reflect on the last 7 years I realize I’ve experienced a miscarriage, carried and birthed a baby boy, 4 cross-country moves, watched my step-kids graduate from high school, sent two little kids off to school, started a business, made new friends and reunited with old ones, and transformed my life into something new and exciting. One thing that has been constant throughout all of this change is running.
I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember. I once failed a math test in Grade 5 and my perfectionist nature got the better of me and I couldn’t cope: I cried myself into a migraine and went home from school sick. That fact that I remember the test was on percentages and was printed on blue paper shows how deep an impact it had. I’ve been through several rounds of counseling and I’ve taken medication. I’ve read all the books and even consulted with alternative therapists. I’ve learned to really tune into who I am and what sets me off.
I struggled with the darkness that loomed overhead for a majority of my life and running has cleared the clouds for me. I look back on the last 7 years and am so thankful for the freedom each step has allowed me to experience. I find myself a little more each time I lace up and hit the trail. Each run is a cathartic experience for me and I release the negativity and anxiety with each bead of sweat. I push up the hills and across finish lines with a new sense of the person I’m becoming.
A few days ago my mom asked me, with a note of disbelief in her voice, if I truly enjoy running.
Running is my therapy these days. I run outside and breathe the fresh air and feel the sun on my skin and the earth beneath my feet. I can think about everything or absolutely nothing! I listen to music that inspires my pace and I push myself to reach new goals and I just keep putting one foot in front of the other because that’s what life is, isn’t it? Getting up each morning and putting one foot in front of the other. Always moving forward.
One of those goals is to run the half marathon at the Valley Harvest Marathon on October 7th this year. It will be an important 21.2k for me as I have chosen to wear the Worth Living logo on my running singlet. I’ve joined this organization as a Run Ambassador to help promote mental health and to remind everyone that every life is worth living. Especially yours. Especially mine.
Every step I take will be a reminder that I lost a pregnancy and survived. That I wandered in the darkness but found the sun. That I’ve struggled with anxiety but I’m excited for what comes next. Every step I take reminds me of how good it feels to be moving forward. Every step is worth taking just like every life is worth living.
What makes your life worth living?
Are you interested in joining the Worth Living Run Ambassadors for an upcoming race?
You can follow Shannon:
Website and blog www.merakieventplanning.com
Worth Living Ambassador & Official DJ Scratchley Q
Worth Living Top 10 Countdown – The Youth
Youth are the ones that help shape our future. Youth are today’s leaders. This week we are counting down songs for the youth. Enjoy! – Scratchley Q
10. Youth – Shawn Mendes ft. Khalid
9. O-O-H Child – Nina Simone
8. Paradise Child – Mr.Cheeks ft. Damian Marley & Jimmy Cozier
7. Beautiful Child Fleetwood Mac
6. Youth Without Youth – Metic
5. Youth – Foxes
4. Youth – Troye Sivan
3. The Youth – MGMT
2. Youth – Glass Animals
1. Oh Child – Robin Schulz ft. Piso 21
Worth Living Ambassador Beth Allen
Hello there, friends! How are you doing? This week’s video is all about our favourite Mental Health/Wellness apps. There’s no shortage of apps out there & it’s clear that many of them have helped the community A LOT!
Here’s the list of my fave FREE apps –
Calm Harm – https://twitter.com/calmharmapp
Aloe Bud – https://twitter.com/aloebud
Remente – https://twitter.com/rementecorp
Happy Not Perfect – https://twitter.com/HNPapp
If you fancy giving any of these apps a try do let me know how you get on with them! I’d love to hear from you.
Thank you so much to everyone who shared their favourite Mental Health/Wellness apps – if you use an app that wasn’t mentioned, do share your experiences in the comments! You never know who you could help.
Where ever you are with your Mental Health right now remember – YOU ARE ENOUGH. We’re all cheering for YOU.
Have a fantastic weekend friends & I will see you soon with another video!
Love Beth xox
Worth Living Ambassador & Official DJ Scratchley Q
Worth Living Top 10 Countdown – Highlights of Tomorrowland 2018
Each year hundreds of thousands of people hope to get a ticket to Tomorrowland in Belgium. Those who are lucky enough to get a ticket, get to experience a time of their life. Filled by party goers and some of the best DJs in the world, here are a few of the Tomorrowland 2018 highlights. Enjoy! – Scratchley Q
10. San Holo
9. Robin Schulz
8. Alan Walker
7. Charlotte de Witte
6. Black Coffee
5. Coone vs Hard Driver
3. Alison Wonderland
1. Nicky Romero
Worth Living Ambassador Jessie Fawcett
Hello, my name is Jessie and I’m a student attending Ryerson University to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. I am dedicated to being able to work in a juvenile detention centre in order to help aid youths who are struggling with their own lives. Mental health has always had a huge impact on my life and I’m finally starting to be able to share my story in hopes to help others who are also struggling with the same issues as well as shedding some light onto mental health.
The Realities of this Disease
You know, I often think to myself that I seem to be doing better and that complete recovery is possible. Unfortunately, I have once again found myself in a situation where the light at the end of the tunnel seems to be getting dimmer and dimmer. I know they always say to look on the bright side and that things will get better and to be positive. Sadly, it isn’t always quite clear to see when darkness overwhelms every aspect of your life.
There aren’t many people out there who truly understand the severity of this disease, depression I mean. And that is exactly what it is, a disease. There is an extreme misconception construing that depression is simply a personality flaw or people that tend to be more sensitive. I can assure you otherwise. Personality traits reflect a person’s characteristics of their emotions, thoughts, and behaviours. This is where the confusion comes in implying that depression is merely someone who is sad fairly frequently. Depression is a disease because it manifests in the way that it can literally take over a person’s life. It is so strong, in fact, that depending on the severity, it usually has a detrimental impact on a person’s day-to-day life. I for one can confirm this for you.
Every day is a constant battle. I am required to fight myself from the moment I awake in the morning until the second I fall asleep at night; and even then, it can continue to manifest itself into my subconscious by causing me to have frequent nightmares. I wake up exhausted and need to fight myself to get out of bed, get dressed, and go to work and to my classes. Then I fight myself throughout the day to eat. I fight myself on small details of the day such as thinking my coworkers hate me and that I am alone fighting this battle. I go home after work and fight myself to go out and do stuff instead of sitting in my room sleeping. I fight myself against the constant and excruciatingly agonizing thoughts that circulate my mind over and over again until I finally fall asleep. I don’t believe that a personality flaw is capable of causing so much constant torment.
Depression doesn’t only show itself through exhaustion or hunger, or lack of it. You can’t always see it through someone’s loss of interest or impulesivity. To be entirely truthful, you can’t always see it; and I don’t only mean that for the bystander. Sometimes it just comes out of nowhere and knocks the wind right out of you. It will suddenly just collapse on top of you like a bag of bricks. It will stare at you dead in the face then jump out at you, shattering every bone in your body with both fear and pain. Not only is the weight of the world on your shoulders but your bones are so broken that you feel as though you have nothing left to support yourself.
It hit me from out of nowhere.
It was a normal Thursday night. I was sitting in my room listening to music. I was fine. And then it was like a light switch was flipped. I got a sudden urge of sadness engulf me. With every breath I took, the despair just kept growing stronger and stronger. I was sobbing. I felt alone. I felt hopeless and that there was no point to keep on trying, that there was no point to keep on breathing. The thoughts that filled my head were dangerous to say the least. As the risk of danger kept increasing, the more frightened I became. I knew that if I didn’t act quickly that something bad was going to happen. I’m still unsure as to what triggered me. And so, I texted my friend explaining that I needed her to come to me because something was severely wrong. She arrived within ten minutes and brought me to her vehicle and started driving. I thought she was bringing me to the hospital and was going to have me forcibly admitted. Luckily, that wasn’t the case. We just kept driving and she made me explain to her what was going on through my head. But I had no idea what was going on in my head. My thoughts were going a million miles an hour. I made her pull over because I felt so unwell that I thought I would vomit. I didn’t want to live anymore and she knew that’s what I was trying to say. She tried her best to convince me of how much potential I have and how I could save other people’s lives in the future with my career choice. I didn’t see the relevance. I believed that there are thousands of other students out there learning the same things who can do it just as well if not better. She tried convincing me that that thought was completely wrong and that I matter but I was still blinded. She didn’t know what else to say. I was broken, I was devastated, I was confused, and I was angry. But so was she, angry. She wasn’t angry with me, she was angry with my disease. And that’s what she told me. She told me that I need to learn how to fight this disease in order to help others who are battling with it as well. She tried to convince me that I am not the problem, my disease is. She kept repeating how it’s the disease and not me. I think that is what stuck with me the most.
I have little control over the way my mind works. With a lot of hard work and the proper therapy, I can gain that control back. But the loss of control was a result of my disease. She is one of very few people helping me learn that. It is extremely touching because this person does not understand what it is like to live with this disease and yet still fights for me anyway and tries to learn how to deal with it, both for her sake as well as mine.
So, what is the point of this post? Well, I really wanted to provide some strong messages regarding this disease. I keep on repeating this term because I need for more and more people to fully comprehend that this in fact is a DISEASE and is not a choice, it is not attention seeking, and it is most certainly not a personality defect. It can come from out of nowhere and hit you from behind. It can blindside you. It will attempt to suffocate you with all of its power and it will…if you let it. There is absolutely nothing easy about fighting this illness. I am still trying to figure out how to continue to do so. I am still trying to figure out how to keep living when my illness tries to convince me that there is no reason to.
I can’t give you a reason to keep fighting, to keep breathing, to keep living. But if there are people out there who are truly trying to show you your importance, then there must be a reason. Why would someone lie about such a thing? Find something beautiful to keep you going, to help you get out of bed in the morning.
I understand how letting people in and getting to know you is outstandingly terrifying and nearly impossible for some people, at least for me it is. But think of it this way: if you leave yourself open, you have more of a chance of getting hit and getting hurt. But if you leave yourself closed off, then you’re preventing yourself from feeling that you’re still alive. At least by feeling something you know that you’re still here, breathing, and surviving
Worth Living Ambassador & Official DJ Scratchley Q
Worth Living Top 10 Countdown – Summer 2018
There was some great music that was released this summer. What are some of your favourites?
Enjoy some of these releases! – Scratchley Q
10. The Middle – Zedd ft. Maren & Morris & Grey
9. DarkSide – Alan Walker ft. Au/Ra & Tomine Harket
8. Natural – Imagine Dragons
7. Dance To This – Troye Sivan ft. Ariana Grande
6. High on Life – Martin Garrix ft. Bonn
5. Could’ve Been – H.E.R. ft. Bryson Tiller
4. Side Effects – Chainsmokers ft. Emily Warren
3. One more Day – Afrojack ft. Jewlez & Sparks
2. Bella Ciao – El Profesor (Hugel Remix)
1. DJs Gotta Dance More – A-Trak ft. Todd Terry