A Note From Our Founders: Why We're Starting the First-Ever National Mental Health Break
May 15, 2019
As we celebrate our three-year anniversary as a company and building a community of 4 million members across the globe—we can’t help but think about our firsts.
The first time we met. The first time we talked about starting a side-hustle together to help people treat themselves better. The first time we hired someone who hadn’t known us. The first time we signed a lease for an office.
One of the firsts that will stick with us more than any other: The first time we realized that we weren’t capable of giving it our all, 7 days a week, working 14 hours a day.
When you first start building a company, all you want to do is sprint. You want to run towards all the problems head-on, as fast as you possibly can; you want to prove the doubters wrong and show your resilience, grit, and work ethic.
A quick Google Search for “advice for entrepreneurs” can offer some context for the environment we found ourselves in. From “sleep when you’re dead” to “never show weakness to your team”—the message coming at us from the world of entrepreneurship was loud and clear: We had to choose between our health and our company.
So for a while, we did.
We grinded. We didn’t sleep. We reheated frozen sausages for lunch every day. We stopped getting time with the people that mattered to us.
And (spoiler alert) we completely burned out.
About six months in, we knew that this health vs. company ultimatum wasn’t working for us—it was causing a decline in focus, a rise in typos, and actually making us less productive. Not to mention: Causing a major spike in our stress and anxiety levels.
In that moment, we implemented Self-Care Saturdays for ourselves, where we vowed to be completely offline for at least one day a week. And as we’ve grown the Shine team over the past three years, we’ve worked to build a company where employees don’t feel like they have to choose between feeling healthy and being ambitious.
At Shine, we have a core value called Go Big and Go Home—which means when we come to work, we show up and we get stuff done. And then: We go home. We rest. We recharge. We get off Slack and spend time with something or someone that brings us joy and relief.
While this shouldn’t be a novel concept, we heard from our community that they weren’t having these same conversations in their offices.
In fact, when surveyed, 95% of our community said a mental health day would help them be more productive at work. But only 28% of people said they feel comfortable asking for a mental health day.
That’s a 67% difference of people who know they would benefit from a mental health day, but don’t feel like they can take one.
And we know this a nationwide problem: 1 in 5 adults will experience a mental illness in a given year. If you’re one of those 46.6 million people and also employed—we know that often means meticulously counting sick days in order to take care of yourself and carrying the constant fear of being seen as “weak” or “lazy” when you need some mental space.
The good news: We can change this—and the solution is simple. It starts at the top.
In the same survey, our members said the number one thing that would help them prioritize their mental health at work is support from company leadership. It was a clear call to action for employers, and one that inspired us to create a nationwide event.
Today, we’re proud to start the first-ever National Mental Health Break.
Over 64 companies across the country, including Lyft, Dropbox, Rent the Runway, Giphy, Thinx, Justworks, IBM Watson, and more, have all pledged to encourage their employees to take a break at 3 p.m. today—whether that means heading out early for the rest of the day or stepping away from the pressures of work for 15 minutes.
By standing up for their employees’ mental wellbeing, these companies are not only creating more psychologically safe workplaces, but also a competitive advantage.
Research from the American Institute of Stress showed that “job stress costs U.S. industry more than $300 billion a year in absenteeism, turnover, diminished productivity, and medical, legal and insurance costs.”
It’s time to stop celebrating a culture of burnout, one that we know affects women, people of color, and other marginalized groups disproportionately. A workplace that ignores the existence of stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues—as well as the intersectional nuances—only sets itself up to exacerbate those issues.
It’s time to reframe the path to success: Let’s focus on creating workplace cultures that encourage people to go big and go home. Because if we don’t work, nothing will.
Head here to learn how Shine can help your team's wellbeing.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, know that seeking help is a strength—not a weakness. If you or someone you care about needs help, text 741741 to talk with a crisis counselor at Crisis Text Line—it's free, confidential, and available at all hours.
Read next: Your Complete Guide to Mental Health Days