Do I post it or not? I sat frozen for 15 minutes, debating whether or not to share my excitement on LinkedIn regarding Telosity Ventures heavily investing in mental health technology. My fear? Inadvertently, by posting this, my struggles with mental health could potentially be alluded to and, as a result—exposed. This, to me, meant my successful marketing and communications consultancy career would automatically come to a screeching halt.
For the last decade, I’ve carefully curated a LinkedIn profile that ensured I always looked professional and poised. I also deliberately made sure never to expose anything personal about myself, especially the fact that I’m a proud Orthodox Lubavitch Chassidic Jew, as well as an accomplished businesswoman who struggles with mental health. Two unpopular subjects.
I don’t doubt that many of my technology-loving communications colleagues can relate. We’re thrilled to serve as the publicity machines behind driving the adoption of mental health technology innovation. Yet it’s frightening to advocate for these solutions publicly as first-hand sufferers. I finally did press that button. It was liberating, not debilitating.
|This article is featured in O'Dwyer's Oct. '22 Healthcare & Medical PR Magazine
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We all need a Jiminy Cricket in our lives. For me, right now, that’s my new purpose-driven and tech-loving mentors, my bosses: Curtis Sparrer, Bospar co-Founder and Principal, and Lauren Essex, Bospar Senior Vice President. They continue to teach me that it’s okay to be publicly bold and stand up for a purpose you genuinely believe in. I witness this daily by being part of the marketing team behind Bospar Stands Up human rights initiatives for women, LGBTQIA+ and minorities.
This program has triggered respect from the media, employees and the PR industry. It’s also a catalyst for why over 145 technology companies continue to select us as their PR and marketing agency. Since we launched the program in 2021, we’ve increased revenue by $7 million.
Communication and PR—let’s all be honest—is one of the most anxiety-driven careers anyone can choose. Handling a technology client’s crisis communications isn’t a walk in the park. Add the fact that we’re now in a downward economic direction and that our jobs are often on the chopping blocks due to tighter budgets. These and many other factors have played a vital role in the industry’s Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting among Millennials and Gen Zers.
I’ve always preferred to be a ghostwriter. Still, I felt I had to come out for the first time and encourage those with mental health issues not to run away from the communications industry and especially the technology arena, which provides a constant intellectual rush of innovations and desperately needs the next generation of publicists to take these to the next level.
I promise there are great companies out there that support mental health.
Here’s how I got control of my mental health in recent years, and these steps allowed me to finally embrace this wonderful working space rather than see it as a constant anxiety-induced struggle. I hope they can provide some of you out there with a dose of guidance:
Step one: seek help immediately
Here’s a shocker that Hollywood would never share with you: The Orthodox Jewish community is evolving at lightning speed. We’re opening our schools and synagogues to the LGBTQIA+ community and taking a public stand against draconian, anti-abortion laws that jeopardize our religious beliefs.
Supporting mental health is no exception.
The Chassidic community, which sadly is often portrayed in public as an insular and unhappy environment, is leading the charge in making mental health services affordable for Orthodox Jews in the tri-state area, either in person or online. Personally, after trying several outside services, this works best for me.
If the religious route isn’t to your taste, reach out to friends, family and colleagues or research the best solutions that fit your needs. From Lemonaid to Betterhelp to Talkspace, the health tech space offers many beautiful and affordable options to hopefully solve several struggles you’re facing.
“COVID has accelerated telemedicine innovations, and this welcoming development is here to stay,” explained my colleague Peter Kerr, a former New York Times health tech journalist and Pulitzer prize finalist.” It will continue to foster further growth in the health and mental tech spaces.”
Once I got the proper help, my life became much more enjoyable, from selecting projects and clients I wanted to work with to meeting and marrying my incredible and lovable husband at 44. There’s no shame in putting your mental health first!
Step two: don’t enter a vertical you loath
Before COVID, I split my time between Israel, Europe and the U.S., flying around to work with my fintech and banking clients. When COVID hit, I couldn’t fly and decided to follow a passion: to become an interim CEO of an ed-tech company. Their excellent one-to-one Chromebook lockdown solutions helped thousands of public and private-school teachers and students conduct remote classes flawlessly during the pandemic.
There are several communications opportunities in the verticals that speak to you. For example, here at Bospar, health and mental-health tech are a definite passion for many, and, in 2020, we hosted a pandemic-related town hall meeting with Dr. Fauci and our client, Healthline.
First, find your passions and the suitable communications space that brings out those passions.
Step three: work only for a mental health advocate employer
While it was thrilling running my tech marketing and PR firm for years, I decided to become an employee at Bospar because it’s a big advocate of mental health support.
Go with your gut feeling; run away if you step into an interview and the management feels off. I promise there are other Bospars out there!
Final step: live with purpose
I lost many loved ones after COVID hit, including my mother-in-law. Like others, once the pandemic subsided, I couldn’t jump back into a solely career-driven existence. I needed a higher purpose, and that was doing something I’d never done before. I took a year off to be a school shadow for a young Orthodox Jewish boy who had behavioral issues at the time. My passion is to help those in my community who suffer from mental health and behavioral disorders. This activism has been unbelievable in my road to mental health recovery.
This isn’t only the first time I’ve written my story but also the first that I didn’t ghost-write an article. It’s scary to put myself out there. Still, I hope that telling my story and encouraging others to seek help will lead to a new generation of tech-loving communications professionals who are happy and mentally healthy and live by purposeful example!
Chani Garb is Vice President of Marketing at Bospar.