It’s Time We Make Our Workplaces Mental Health-Friendly

I had a burnout.

One year ago, I stood up in front of hundreds of my colleagues with a post in my hand saying:

‘When to pause? Burnouts. What to do?’.

I almost cried saying it loud in the microphone while introducing my topic at the Unconference that morning.


Sharing my story

My session was about to start. I didn’t know who will come and how will the event turn out. No expectations — no fears. Almost 30 people arrived and sat in the circle with me. I remember starting like this:

“Few days ago, I got a nephew. I am very happy now, but several months ago, I couldn’t be happy for anything or anyone. I couldn’t bear myself for a moment longer. I was crying day and night. I couldn’t look myself in the mirror. I didn’t want to wake up. I didn’t know why I was going to work. I was a mess. My home was a mess. My life was a mess.”

“It was like that for weeks until I asked for help. With the support of my company I got a work coach assigned and in a period of few months, I brought myself back to a normal state. I understood what happened and why it happened. I got to know myself better. I was not feeling empty and lost anymore. I learned. I was ready to move forward… “

After 20 minutes I stopped. A colleague raised his hand.

No, it was not a question. It was a similar story. Few more followed. People shared their experience and told me what was helping them. They offered the tools and techniques they were using for prevention or for recovery. They were all brave.

I could not believe what just happened! I was not alone. I was supported. And there were all these great, strong and amazing people, whom I respected, having similar experiences as my own.

Oh, you can imagine how emotional it was: We were in contact with each other. We were there for each other. It was beautiful.

The Mental Health Group

After that session, nothing was the same. People were thankful to me for being courageous. They found someone who listened, they were sharing their stories with me, they were seeking advice and they were seeking knowledge.

This is how the Mental Health Group at my workplace was created. We collect and provide on-topic resources, as well as self-help tools and techniques to our colleagues.

My personal goal is to raise awareness about mental health among employees, especially among managers: How to recognize when things are not the best they can be and how to help before it is too late. It is not a taboo, and trust me, no one wants to be there.

If you are currently having mental health issues, get encouraged to seek help — there is a way out.

If you’ve had one in the past, share your story, open up — you will help someone else.

Vulnerability connects people in a true, honest way. Vulnerability makes us grow.

It is not shame. It is life.

Original Post. More about WWCode Berlin Director Aleksandra Gavrilovska.

Originally published at