To mark Mental Health Awareness Month, we are sharing some ways we're working toward our vision of a world where everyone can be their best selves and be the protagonist of their future.
We’ve all been there: struggling to get through the day after a sleepless night, an upsetting experience, a personal tragedy. For those struggling with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues, this sort of daily struggle can go much deeper and endure, impeding productivity, creativity, and the ability to truly thrive for weeks, months, or even years.
It’s an exceedingly widespread problem and one with staggering consequences — for both society at large, but also for individuals unable to work productively, or perhaps at all. More than half of all people in middle and high-income countries will suffer from at least one mental health disorder during their lives, contributing to roughly $2.5 trillion in direct and indirect costs, from healthcare bills to lost earnings. That figure is expected to double by 2030. Not fully reflected in these estimates, of course, is the personal loss and suffering that comes from untreated mental health issues.
At SecondMuse, we are working to build a very different future: one consisting of just and inclusive economies that are good for people and the planet. By inclusive, we mean economies that are accessible to everyone. Working toward that future, therefore, requires us to address the most obvious barriers to economic inclusion, like racism and gender biases, but also barriers that tend to receive less attention, like our society’s pervasive problems with mental health.
Across geographies, cultures and socioeconomic levels, mental health issues prevent huge swaths of our population from fully participating in the economy and tapping their human potential. To dismantle this critical barrier, all of our programs and initiatives either directly or indirectly support the mental health of all people — especially those from marginalized backgrounds — so that we can all truly show up and thrive.
To mark Mental Health Awareness Month, we are rounding up some of the ways we are working toward our vision of a world where everyone has positive mental health, can participate in the economy, and ultimately be the protagonist of their future.
Our pioneering mental well-being program is dedicated to rethinking the way technologies that impact young people are designed, developed, and funded. It was born from the realization that digital landscapes weren’t designed with youth well-being in mind and the conviction that, if designed more thoughtfully, these spaces, where adolescents are coming of age, could actually help them thrive. Since launching, the program has:
- Developed a crowdsourced research tool that offers clear direction on where people and organizations working to improve teen digital well-being should focus their efforts.
- Unveiled a separate impact measurement tool redefining the way entrepreneurs, investors, and others can measure the impact of digital technologies on youth well-being.
- Launched a frame-breaking project that matches teens with tech practitioners from big-named platforms to integrate youth co-creation into technologies in a way that drives youth well-being through a lens of equity and justice.
- Supported dozens of entrepreneurs building social technologies designed to help youth thrive, while supporting the mental health of entrepreneurs themselves, through open dialogue and a culture that doesn’t require them to push through when they need a break.
THE MOVEMBER ROOTED AND RISING COLLECTIVE
This social impact accelerator developed by men’s charity Movember in partnership with SecondMuse aims to motivate Black men across the U.S. to step into their human potential, take good care of themselves and thrive. The inaugural program brought together 10 Black men, all emerging artists with sizable social media followings, in order to help them
- Elevate their awareness about mental well-being
- Grow their creative businesses
- Develop content to inspire young Black men to live happier, healthier, longer lives through a focus on self care.
At the heart of the program is an understanding that for creative people to truly thrive and inspire others, they first need to take care of themselves.
OTHER PROGRAMMING + ACTIVITIES
From The Incubation Network and For ClimateTech to GET Cities and the Food System Vision Prize, all of the programming we support works to build just and inclusive economies that are good for people and the planet. This entails working to address complex problems, like climate change, food insecurity, gender biases, and pollution, which can all contribute to mental health issues.
More directly, though, we work to create a culture, across all of our programs and initiatives, that prioritizes the well-being of entrepreneurs because, fundamentally, we understand that they need to be their best selves in order to do their crucial work.
For this reason, SecondMuse makes space for innovators we work with to “tap out” if they are feeling overwhelmed, ask for help, share insecurities, and know we will do everything we can to support them.
The same approach applies to our own team members at SecondMuse, who power everything we do. To help them be more whole, connected, and balanced, SecondMuse offers a range of policies and programs aimed at improving well-being, including:
- Flexible Friday scheduling, which enables team members to redistribute their hours so they can work reduced hours — or none at all — on Fridays every two weeks.
- Mindfulness/relaxation sessions twice a month.
- Clean-Up Weeks, in which teams are encouraged to limit meetings, slow down, take a collective breath, and reflect. During a recent Clean-Up Week, for example, SecondMuse’s Asia Pacific team took a break from work for a 2-hour hike through nature.
From our smallest daily practices to entire programs, a focus on mental health runs through everything we do at SecondMuse. Because in order to find solutions to climate change, gender and racial inequality, food insecurity, economic disparities, and other injustices — and to work toward a world of true economic inclusion — we need to ensure that everyone has the mental and physical health required to show up, every day, and thrive.