Sarah welcomes Johnny Crowder, suicide/abuse survivor, TEDx speaker, touring musician, mental health and sobriety advocate, and the Founder & CEO of Cope Notes, a text-based mental health platform that provides daily support to users in nearly 100 countries across the globe, to discuss the criticality of prioritizing mental health in the workplace.
Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I’m your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today, we are going to be talking about the need to de-stigmatize, normalize and prioritize mental health in the workplace. Hopefully you are aware that this month, May, is mental health awareness month. Those of you that listen to the podcast regularly or read our content, know that this is a very important topic to me. And I am thrilled to have here with me today, Johnny Crowder. Johnny is a TEDx speaker, touring musician, mental health and sobriety advocate, as well as the founder and CEO of Cope Notes, which is a text-based mental health platform that provides daily support to users in nearly a hundred countries. Johnny, welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast.
Johnny Crowder: Thank you for having me. I’m pumped up.
Sarah Nicastro: Thank you for being here. So I found Johnny on LinkedIn and I am a big fan of his content and messages. I’m also a big fan in general, about how mental health is something that you see discussed more and more on LinkedIn, right? I think that’s kind of a bit of what we’re going to talk about today is this is not needed to be a conversation that you reserve for Facebook or Instagram or whatever your personal social media platform is of choice, it is a conversation that is important for us to be discussing in professional forums as well. So Johnny, tell us a little bit about yourself and your background and your journey and how you got to the point of becoming a mental health advocate and public speaker.
Johnny Crowder: Yeah. So the short version, I’ll tell you the short version. The long version, I have a TEDx talk. So if you want to go listen to that, that’s like an 18 minute breakdown of how the heck I got here.
Sarah Nicastro: Okay.
Johnny Crowder: But the short version, I’m going to leave out a lot of details here, but essentially I grew up in an abusive home and I learned all the wrong things about myself at a very young age, started developing symptoms of mental illness much, much younger than most people. So I’m talking like toddler years, elementary school, middle school. So I never really had like a normal day, that like childhood day where you go play soccer and you eat a freezer pop or whatever. I had a lot of trauma and a lot of illness at a really young age. And it kept me from performing daily tasks for a long time.
Johnny Crowder: So like any child would I resisted treatment for like 10 whole years. I just wouldn’t touch it. And then I started mandatory treatment in high school because of some behavior issues. And then I wound up taking psychology courses to prove my doctors wrong. It turns out they were right. And then I took more psychology courses, eventually got a degree from the University of Central Florida in psychology. And then I switched. The big shift was thinking that I wanted to become a clinician to realizing the power of peer support and just using what I had been through to employ empathy. So now instead of being a doctor, I just work with doctors and then I provide that peer perspective from someone who’s actually been through it firsthand. And then those doctors can provide the book learn inside.
Sarah Nicastro: Yes. Okay, good. So when did you do your first, I guess, public speaking thing related to this topic? How old were you, what was kind of the… how did that come to be? Was it your TED talk, or I’m assuming you’ve been speaking before that?
Johnny Crowder: No. I can’t imagine the TED talk being like my first time talking about it. Well, I think, so it started, it’s a really unglamorous start. I found out about NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, when I was in college and I was like performing, I was teaching and performing improv and I was in a band and we were touring and stuff. So I was a little bit familiar with stage, but definitely not talking about my own personal mental health on stage. And I met NAMI greater Orlando when I was in school, and they were like, “Yeah, we have people come up and speak at events and schools just about what they’ve been through,” and I was like, “Oh, well, I’m still really sick. So like, can I participate while I’m still having a lot of issues?” And they were like, “Definitely, come get involved and volunteer.”
Johnny Crowder: So I actually just got a LinkedIn notification that my 10 year anniversary with NAMI was this month. So literally 10 years ago. You got to picture me. I’m 18, still have pimples. I’m still trying to figure out the chest hair situation, whether or not I’m going to grow any. And I just started getting on stage at these really small, local volunteer type events and just trying to awkwardly share what I had been through. And over time it became… it started feeling more and more natural to the point now where if someone asks me about my mental health in a professional setting, I’m not like, bah, but they’re seriously when I would apply to jobs, I would try to do everything within my power to prevent my employer from learning that I was taking anti-psychotic medication or seeing a therapist and so on, so the stigma was real.
Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. And I think, going back to what I mentioned in the introduction with some of the content you see come up on LinkedIn and some of the conversations we’ve had even on this podcast, that dialogue is changing and I’m very grateful for that, but there’s a long way to go. There’s a long way to go. And there’s a couple points in what you just said that I think are important. One is, normalizing this topic is everyone’s responsibility, right? And it’s not just if you struggle with it and it’s not just if you don’t, right? It’s sort of understanding that collectively is how we make more progress in making this a more normal part of dialogue and a more normal part of our professional lives.
Sarah Nicastro: The other thing is, I like what you said about sharing even though you were still struggling. Right? I mean, I know when you and I connected last, I told you there’s a woman, Glennon Doyle, for anyone that is not familiar with her, she has been a writer and a public speaker and an activist in different ways. She wrote a book in 2013 called Carry on Warrior that really, really changed my life. I read it on an airplane rides in California. And I remember I just had tears streaming down my face, but it was talking about her experiences with anxiety and depression. And it was really the first time in my life I felt that it was okay that I wasn’t okay. Do you know what I mean? And it was, 2013 doesn’t sound so long ago to me, but really it was before there was as much open dialogue about this in, whether it’s blogs or podcasts or just on social media. It was huge.
Sarah Nicastro: She actually just launched a podcast and the first episode was last week. And one of the listeners asked something about her coping mechanisms for anxiety. And she said, “Well, the first thing is I had to admit I’m never getting better. It is who I am and it’s not going to go away. So once I could stop waiting for it to disappear, I could breathe again, because I wasn’t trying to fundamentally change who I am as a person. And then I could actually look at, okay, how can I cope with this? Not how can I wish it away?” And I thought that was super powerful. But anyway, all of that to say, you never know when sharing your own experience or being open to listening to someone else’s struggles is going to really, really change things for someone. And so it’s important for us to all acknowledge the role we can play in this topic. Does that make sense? That was a lot of me babbling. I’m sorry.
Johnny Crowder: No, I specifically remember clarifying with NAMI before I… I have really bad memory loss from medication like long-term, but this is one thing that I specifically remember. I was quadruple checking with one of the organizers before I first started sharing it, like in a peer support setting. I’m like, “Are you sure it’s okay? Because I’m still pretty in the thick of everything and trying to figure stuff out.” And they were saying, “That’s actually great because you’re not so far out of it that you’re saying, ‘Oh yeah, dude, read this book and take this vitamin and you’ll be fine. And I’m fine. Look at me now.'” That doesn’t help as much as someone explaining to you what they’re going through and you’re going, “Holy crap. Yeah, exactly. It is really complicated. I wish it was that easy, but it’s not,” like that is the essence of peer support.
Sarah Nicastro: Right. So in terms of peer support, not only do you public speak and advocate yourself, but you’ve also created Cope Notes. So tell the people listening a little bit about what Cope Notes is and why it exists.
Johnny Crowder: Yeah. So Cope Notes uses daily text messages to improve mental and emotional health. And the whole reason we’re doing that is because a lot of people don’t have time for like an hour appointment or they don’t know what their schedule is going to be like, so it’s hard to plan for traditional mental health services. Or they have privacy concerns. I know that that’s something that I was pretty concerned with when I was first starting to use some online digital mental health supports. And then it’s also for people who struggle with consistency like me. So I’m the kind of person who, with all the best intentions, I either over commit or under commit and the under committing is a result of over-committing. So I’ll be like, okay, I’m going to run seven miles every day for the whole year. And it’s like, dude, that’s such a bad plan.
Sarah Nicastro: Right.
Johnny Crowder: Like you’re going to burn out, you’re going to… It’s not going to work long-term. So I wanted to create something that could sustain the consistency necessary to improve mental health long term. So Cope Notes, one thing I want to clarify is Cope Notes isn’t like a magical, it’ll make you better overnight. This is something that, we’re investing in you a year from now. Just like if you brush your teeth every day, it’s not going to magically get rid of cavities, but over time it will prevent you from getting cavities. And Cope Notes is kind of the same thing, like low effort. There’s a low threshold, low barrier to entry and it’s pretty passive. So these texts come to you. It’s not like you have to remember to use the tool, and over time, it literally trains your brain to think in healthier patterns.
Sarah Nicastro: Cool. Very cool. Okay. We’ve both shared a little bit about ourselves. And let’s talk though, let’s start talking about why it’s so important to de-stigmatize mental health issues in the workplace. So as you know, most of the people listening to this podcast are in the business world and responsible for teams and responsible for employees, and we probably have people from different ends of the spectrum, people that are like, “Yeah, let’s normalize mental health,” and then people that are like, “What? I don’t want to talk about that or think about that or address that.” So let’s talk about why it’s important to commit to de-stigmatizing this topic.
Johnny Crowder: Well, I’m thinking if you’re a leader right now, you’re listening and you are a manager, you have a team, picture yourself like a coach for a second. So you’re the coach of a soccer team. Because I mentioned soccer earlier. How important is it for you as a coach to create an atmosphere, an environment for your team to let you know if they’re hurt? Like imagine if you were the type of coach… and this is what’s happening in the corporate world, by the way, we have coaches proverbially who are saying, if you break your ankle, I don’t want to hear about it. Your team doesn’t want to hear about it. Don’t show weakness, get back out there on the field and crush the opponent no matter what. And what you’re doing is guaranteeing that you will lose the game. And you’re guaranteeing that you will lose a star player. Because he only thing that will make a broken ankle worse is continuing to play on the broken ankle.
Johnny Crowder: And a lot of people who are in a corporate environment, they’ll start experiencing like crippling OCD to where it’s interfering with their, it’s not only interfering with their work, but also with their work-life balance. And then that’s affecting their sleep and it’s affecting their eating, and then that’s affecting their performance. And we have leaders who are saying that’s personal stuff. No, it’s not. No, it’s not. If it’s affecting work performance, it is not a purely personal matter. Anyone… And you know what I’ve seen, there’s a little more talk about this lately, which I think is important, divorce. When someone is going through a divorce, have you ever met someone who was going through a divorce and it didn’t affect their work performance?
Sarah Nicastro: Right. No.
Johnny Crowder: So you can’t… It’s important to establish work-life balance. But also leaders are in a position where, I mean, if they actually care about their company, they actually care about the progress of what they’re building and they care about their team, you don’t even have to have a heart for the people. Even if you’re like this cold calculated spreadsheet person, you don’t give a crap about how people feel, you should still care about de-stigmatizing mental health. Because imagine if you were in a boat that had a hole and you couldn’t find it, and the boat was going down and you couldn’t find it because none of the people on the boat would want to tell you where the hole was because they were afraid to get in trouble or get judged. Your boat’s going to sink, period.
Sarah Nicastro: Right. So that’s it, that’s a good point. I mean, hopefully you care because you care about people.
Johnny Crowder: Yeah, definitely
Sarah Nicastro: But for anyone that’s listening that doesn’t… No. But I mean, it is a good point that this is, you can care, and let’s say that’s the warm, fuzzy side of it, right? Like I really care about my team or my employees, but there’s also an element of needing to realize the impact on performance and looking at it strategically in the sense of it isn’t just about being a warm, fuzzy, I care about my people thing, it is also an element of the same way that you… A lot of companies have programs that help employees with their physical health because they want people to be healthy and they want people to show up and feel good and be able to do their work. It’s the same idea with the mental health, right? It’s maybe not as visible in some ways as physical ailments, but it’s certainly just as important.
Sarah Nicastro: And I would say, with everything that’s gone on in the past year, pro and con. Pro is, I think even companies that before weren’t acknowledging the criticality of this topic have realized that they need to. Con is, people are a bit more stressed, burned out and struggling than they ever have been, right? So I said this earlier, we all have a responsibility in this, but let me hear from your perspective. Why is it everyone’s job to normalize and prioritize mental health within a business?
Johnny Crowder: Well, you can either be an example or a non-example. And I know that for myself, if I ever had a non-example, I would cling to that. So I’m trying to think when I was in college, if I knew nine people, this is hypothetical, if I knew nine other students who were engaging with mental health services, and I knew nine teachers who are opening up about mental health, but I knew one student and one teacher that didn’t want to talk about it, that’s it. “Oh, that’s not for me. And I’m actually good.” I would identify with that person every single time, because people are naturally looking for an excuse not to work on themselves. They’re always sure. Yesterday I had a sunburn. I still have one. I don’t know if you can see it. It’s mostly on my shoulders.
Sarah Nicastro: You don’t even look red.
Johnny Crowder: But it was a real sunburn and I wanted ice cream because I was so hot. And I had ice cream, and it was great. And I can virtually guarantee you that if I wasn’t sunburned, I would have found another reason to have ice cream, because I wanted it. It works the same way with something, I’ll relate this to physical health as well, exercise. I can find a reason not to exercise. I’ve been working out forever and I can find a reason to be like, oh, you know what? Well, today is Monday. And maybe I should start working on organizing my closet because I’ve been meaning to do that for a while. I will avoid working out when I’m tired. And if I have a friend who says, “Oh yeah, I skip the gym a lot.” I say, “Oh, I identify with that person.”
Johnny Crowder: So each time you turn down the opportunity to share about yourself, or you turn down the opportunity to engage in a mental health conversation, you are providing a, it’s not even a safe haven, it’s a danger Haven. I don’t even know if that’s a thing, but you’re giving someone who might need genuine help and support an opportunity to not engage by setting the wrong example. So no one is exempt from this. Like kids, trust me, if you have an eight year old who’s talking to you about feeling anxious, that’ll change a parent. So forget status roles or forget ages or demographics. Everyone has an opportunity to lead by example. And by choosing to not lead by example, you are accidentally still leading by example, you’re just leading by the wrong one.
Sarah Nicastro: Right. Right. Yes. And it’s, I think a recognition that you don’t know when or how you’re going to help someone in a significant way, but guaranteed, if you’re avoiding, consciously avoiding the opportunity to do that, then you’re not going to help someone, right? It is important for everyone to understand the role they play in normalizing these conversations and making this a priority within organizations. And I think that those negative examples hopefully are becoming few fewer and further between, and also standing out more. Right? That’s kind of the flip side of this is as this conversation does normalize, those perceptions of this as a taboo topic or whatever are becoming less and less mainstream, that’s… Yeah. So what would be your best advice for listeners on to create a company culture that’s mental health friendly and/or what are some of the biggest mistakes you see companies make as they’re making an effort to do that?
Johnny Crowder: So I’ll start with mistakes. What I see really commonly is something like, “Oh, it’s mental health awareness month. And for mental health awareness month, we’re going to send an e-blast out to everybody. And then maybe if you reply to a poll, you can get entered for a chance to win a water bottle.” And that’s it. And then at the end of May, all the executives are patting themselves on the back like, “Yeah, we’re so good. We’re such good people.” Or they’ll do like, as for mental health awareness month, we donated $500 to a local mental health charity, and then pat, pat, pat on my back and then we’ll do a press release about it. And then everybody’s happy. I see a lot of that. And I also see it. I don’t even have to tell listeners why that’s not enough. So I’m not going to use time talking about that.
Johnny Crowder: But I will say that what I do see commonly as kind of like too much, too soon. So people going like, “Oh, now we’re going to have yoga every morning. And then before the beginning of every meeting we’re going to have this namaste moment where everyone goes around the table and talks about how they feel.” And then productivity is lowered and people are like, “Am I really supposed to be honest in this setting?” So I see a lot of that, like too much, too soon where they’re not really thinking about culture, they’re more thinking about policy. And the best policy in the world won’t save you from a bad culture.
Johnny Crowder: When I’m looking at something like a company culture around mental health, I think small incremental steps and including it in existing policy rather than drafting a whole new policy. I remember I was in the Carolinas and I was with my buddies kids. He has five kids. Five.
Sarah Nicastro: Can’t imagine.
Johnny Crowder: And they were making lunch for the kids and they just, they don’t like spinach. It’s like something in the house where they’re like, “Ooh, spinach is gross.” So what she did was she put slices of spinach in a grilled cheese sandwich. Not slices of spinach, you know what I’m talking about, leaves.
Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, yeah.
Johnny Crowder: In a grilled cheese sandwich. And then she had them take bites with their eyes closed to see which slice of grilled cheese they liked better, one with spinach one without. And they realized they couldn’t tell the difference with their eyes closed. And I was blown away. I was like, this is such an innovative approach to getting these kids eat spinach. And she’s like, “Well, yeah, if I just pour out a big bowl of spinach no one’s going to eat any. You have to work it into things that they’re familiar with that they like.” And I think the same is true for mental health.
Johnny Crowder: Don’t just dump it all into a bowl and push it out to all your employees. You have to… it’s lots of casual mentions. So using a term like anxious or anxiety or depressed or depression, even just those two very basic things or asking people like how they are feeling, or if you’re too scared of stuff like that, and you’re a leader, you can literally start with asking people like for a minute at the top of a meeting, what they did over the weekend and then encouraging people to follow up with each other to ask, “Oh, you said you rode BMX this weekend. How did you even get into that?” And fostering those interpersonal conversations. Because if all your work conversations are about work, I can guarantee that people will never be fully honest in the work place.
Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. That’s a really good point. I think we had a gentleman from QIAGEN on the podcast a few months ago, and we talked specifically about how they’ve increased their focus on employee mental health, really seeing the opportunity or need that COVID presented, and making it a focus for their field service operations, and a lot… Go ahead, go ahead.
Johnny Crowder: I just wanted to mention, I just had a great idea. I mean, it’s not even an idea, but it’s, a lot of leaders that I speak to say, “Well, my people don’t really know me like that” or, “I don’t really want to be the one that initiates something like that.” This is when you need a scapegoat.
Sarah Nicastro: Okay.
Johnny Crowder: So this is like, I am a professional scapegoat.
Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.
Johnny Crowder: Because, if you’re a leader and you say something and it falls flat or lands wrong and you’re in your head about it, things can go sideways. But if you, “Hey, we’re going to have a speaker come in or we’re going to have someone come, like a third party,” then you offload that like nervous responsibility.
Sarah Nicastro: Responsibility, yeah.
Johnny Crowder: And then you get to refer to someone who’s not you. So it doesn’t seem like, “Steve is deciding that this is the way it is.” You say, “The speaker the other day mentioned…” and then you have like stuff to pull from.
Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.
Johnny Crowder: So a lot of people are afraid of being like the bad guy or the mental health guy, the person to start the conversation. It’s like the spooky taboo region of conversation for some reason. And I always tell people that’s exactly when you need a third party to come in and start it so that you can work off the momentum of that conversation rather than you being like, “I don’t know what to say or don’t know what to do.” Let somebody else start the engine.
Sarah Nicastro: Yes, yes. That’s a good point. And I think, probably a necessity for some personality types or comfort levels, but I also think, don’t be a chicken and don’t try and shirk your own responsibility for contributing. Now, that could be following on a speaker or it could just be taking the initiative flat out. But I think that what you said is it’s really a matter of baby steps into the already existing processes, right? And that can feel uncomfortable at first, but the stakes are low. I mean, you ask how everyone’s feeling in a meeting and you might get a couple of weird looks, but if you do it often enough, then people will start to engage.
Sarah Nicastro: I also think that leaders have to understand that it’s a two-way street. So it can’t just be you asking, how do you feel, how do you feel, how do you feel, if you’re never willing to kind of engage on that personal level in an authentic way, whatever that looks like for you, but you have to be willing to share some of your own feelings, thoughts, struggles, as well, so that you model the fact that that level of engagement is not just accepted within the organization, but encouraged.
Johnny Crowder: Yeah. I’m thinking of one particular board that I serve on where there’s a doctor that leads the board and she will kind of, at the top of the meeting, everyone will like share for about a minute or so just very brief, very quick talking about stuff. And she did this thing especially early on when the board was new. I’ve been with them for a couple of years now, but early on, I was like, I don’t know basically anyone here, so I don’t know what I’m supposed to share and when I’m not supposed to share.
Johnny Crowder: And she did this thing where she was explaining, like we go around and share and she’s like, “I’ll go first. I had a paper due last Thursday and it was due for publication and someone messed up a submission number somewhere and it’s been pushed off. And I thought about it the entire weekend. That happened on Thursday. Today’s Monday. And I feel like I couldn’t get my brain to think about other things because I was so anxious about the thing on Thursday and whether or not they’ll let us submit late. So honestly I’m a little wiped out, but I’m looking forward to getting energy back from this meeting.” And I was just like, holy crap, this is the leader of the whole thing. And then as people started sharing, I mean, you don’t have to tell people to share something similar, they will do it naturally because they saw that there was no consequence.
Sarah Nicastro: Right. Yes. But you have to humanize yourself, right?
Johnny Crowder: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Sarah Nicastro: So let’s talk then about why sometimes I think people don’t do that, which is this sort of misconception that leaders have to kind of have that stiff upper lip, that I needed to be in a position where I command respect and I shouldn’t let any cracks in the foundation show or signs of weakness or what have you. So what would you say to that misconception and why that is sort of an incorrect or outdated view of what leadership should look like?
Johnny Crowder: I think outdated is the right word, because that used to be a thing. Think back in the previous century and people were going through a lot of stuff, they needed a fearless leader, strong. And they’re like, “Oh, we have to cut a thousand jobs this week,” and the leader is like, “I will make it happen.” That was kind of, I guess it worked for a long time, but now it’s you see something like that and you just think, did they even hear? That’s bad news. The thing that I think maybe a few decades ago what people feared most in a work setting was like a spineless leader or a leader that couldn’t take action or a leader that couldn’t command authority. Now people’s fear is like a careless, cold, callous leader. They don’t want to follow a robot. Why do you think there’s like authenticity and vulnerability trainings and all this stuff for leaders? It’s because people want to work for somebody who they know is a real person.
Sarah Nicastro: Right.
Johnny Crowder: And that’s why I think, in the modern era, like before technology, I think strength was important. But now with everyone being able to access, basically they can look you up and find out all this stuff about you, they don’t want to see that, they don’t want to see your resume in a work setting or what you’ve accomplished. They want to see, oh dang, okay, he has a three-year-old and his three-year-old threw up on him. And that’s, I’ve been through that, too.
Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Who you are underneath.
Johnny Crowder: And all of a sudden you’re like, “Man, you know what? I remember when my kid was three and I… Yeah, I want to give a little extra juice this week because I remember going through that” or, “Man, my kid is going to be three next year and I want to learn from this guy.” So there’s all of these opportunities to shift the way that you portray yourself in a work setting in order to provide more value. And in fact, most people think they’re compromising authority and you’re not. You’re not. The people who have the most authority, if you think about virtually anything, the people who have the most authority are the people you like the most.
Sarah Nicastro: Right.
Johnny Crowder: For example, in my mind, if I’ve met you and I know you, you have more authority than the mayor of my city. Because I’ve never met the mayor of my city. So that, don’t compromise, don’t think that you have to compromise authority for showing your personality, because think about the people with the most authority in your life, they’re most likely your friends and family.
Sarah Nicastro: Right. I was just going to say, I think the goal of authority in many cases is influence, right? And so I think that’s going back to what we talked about earlier. Like hopefully you care about this topic because you just care. Right? But there is also an element of normalizing mental health discussions, not only because you care about your people, but because you don’t need that hole in the boat, as you said. Same thing goes here. I wouldn’t suggest trying to become more vulnerable as a leader just to exercise influence over people. Okay? It needs to be authentic. But when you can authentically connect with people in a human way, you do increase your influence over them. Do you know what I mean? There is also a correlation in terms of the positive impact on people, but also the positive impact on outcome. Right? So, that’s a good point as well.
Sarah Nicastro: Okay. I know we’re going to run out of time. I want to ask two other quick questions, Johnny. The first is, if you see an employee is struggling or if you know an employee, hopefully at some point it feels comfortable coming to you and saying that they are struggling, what is the best ways for a company or a leader to offer support?
Johnny Crowder: So, number one, don’t be empty handed. Like don’t say, “Well, no one’s ever asked us for stuff so we don’t need stuff.” Wrong. Now is the time to have a few go-to resources. And I would say, make sure those resources are tiered. Don’t give them three of the same type of thing. Like we have a red one, a blue one and a yellow one. Be like, what is your scale of need right now? Are you like a one to three? Are you a four to six? Are you a seven to 10? And then have at least one option in each of those categories? So I would say if you… Most people say, I want a suite of products to hand people, just make sure that they’re covering different bases.
Sarah Nicastro: Right.
Johnny Crowder: And then I’ll say, if you’re identifying someone who might be struggling, the best thing you can do, best thing you can do is take them out to lunch. Best thing you can do. And no pretense, no anything like that, and just like spend time with them. Because I can almost guarantee, like food makes people let their guard down. If you take them out, you don’t have to be like, “So how’s your mental health lately?”
Sarah Nicastro: Right.
Johnny Crowder: Just be like, “Hey, just wanted to take you out. And I had a gift card to Chili’s, so I thought it would be nice for you to get out of the office for a little while,” and just talk. But I would say in either scenario, make clear that if they share something, make it clear like, “Hey, you’re not going to get in trouble for what you just said to me. So don’t leave this office and wonder if you made a mistake or anything. You got to know, we’re not going to be… I’m not going to like go to all these higher ups and be like, oh, listen, this is what this guy is going through.” Just remind them as they leave like, what you just did was really important, now I’m clued in. I can help and we can see, we can actually work together to solve this rather than you trying to figure it out on your own. So you just made the best decision you could make, like reinforce that
Sarah Nicastro: Right. Positive reinforcement of articulating that need. Right? Yeah. That’s a good point. Okay. Last question. Tell listeners what resources, offhand, do you recommend for folks that want to either expand their own knowledge on mental health or look at different resources for their organizations. What are your suggestions there?
Johnny Crowder: So I’m going to be biased and recommend Cope Notes and also my TED talk. But outside of that, I would recommend NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. I can guarantee there’s an affiliate close to you and they’ll have a pretty good finger on the pulse of what resources are available in your area. And also TED talks in general. They have a way of taking these really complicated like subjects and then distilling them down into like 15, 10, 20 minutes. And that helps. Even if you, from now on, you send one TED talk a month, or you watch it with your employees over lunch, or you send it out via email or whatever, you have it on your internal employee board and you have the TED talk of the month and it’s related to mental health, people will watch that and it will make a difference, because education is key.
Johnny Crowder: If you make health education easy and communal in that, “Hey everyone, homework for over the weekend, you watch this TED talk, it will take 15 minutes. And then on Monday morning at the first 10 minutes of our all hands meeting, we’re going to just talk about some insights that we gleaned from the TED talk.” That’s the stuff that changes culture.
Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Very good points. All right, Johnny. Well, thank you so much for coming on and sharing. I really appreciate you being here.
Johnny Crowder: Absolutely. Thanks for having me.
Sarah Nicastro: You can learn more by visiting us at futureoffieldservice.com. If you within your organization are taking strides to de-stigmatize and normalize mental health, I would love to talk with you about that and have you on the podcast as well. The Future of Field Service podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more about IFS at ifs.com. As always, thank you for listening.