Breaking the Stigma: Fostering Mental Health Awareness and Support at Planful

Joe Ursitti
Sr. Director of Delivery Services
Portrait of Joe Ursitti, Senior Director of Delivery Services at Planful. Joe smiles in front of a purple background.

Breaking the Stigma: Fostering Mental Health Awareness and Support at Planful

Please note: This article may be sensitive for some, as it discusses men’s wellness & mental health, including the topic of suicide.

Mental health is very important to me, especially in the workplace. Fundamentally, it means fostering a culture of support, understanding, and inclusivity.

The first step is recognizing that employees are not just assets but individuals with their own struggles inside and outside the workplace. The next step is providing team members with the space to open up about their mental health challenges without fear, shame, or discrimination.

We’re lucky Planful has created a culture of inclusivity, compassion, and care. My role as a leader here involves promoting mental health awareness, reducing stressors, and encouraging others to seek help when needed.

For me, mental health and suicide prevention, specifically the Movember cause, is near and dear to my heart. I’m part of a club no one wants to be part of – having been intimately touched by suicide. I’m standing up, as a man, calling attention to this cause to potentially save a life.

It’s okay not to be okay. When this stigma gets removed, we all will be in a better place.

Planful’s Commitment to Movember and Mental Health Awareness

For the last three years, Planful has supported Movember, a charity that focuses on men’s health, including men’s mental health and suicide prevention. At Planful, we take action in two ways to fundraise for suicide prevention:

  • Men on the team grow mustaches to call attention to the cause. I don some pretty nifty AI mustaches during my Zoom meetings during November, but CMO Rowan Tonkin and VP of Solutions Consulting Justin Merritt tend to grow the fanciest real mustaches in the group.
  • Men and women on the team walk or run 60 miles during November, one mile for every man that takes his own life each minute every day globally. This is my personal approach to the program – walking nightly with my dog and thinking about those who stopped their battle short.

Outside of these special efforts to raise awareness about mental health, remember you don’t need any special training to create a safe space for others, just awareness and a willingness to listen.

Be real and genuinely care about the well-being of the people around you. Maybe you notice your friend or coworker hasn’t been themselves lately. Ask them: “You haven’t seemed like yourself lately. Are you feeling okay?”

Perhaps the most difficult part is staying in the moment and listening to what they’re sharing. You don’t need answers. Sometimes the best remedy is simply being present. Be engaged and give them your attention. Follow up with them in a day or two to see how they’re doing. It all comes down to listening and creating a supportive environment.

You may know of resources that can further support someone. Ask if they would like to hear about them. More than a few times, I’ve listened and pivoted to more experienced folks – employee assistance programs (EAPs), the Planful People team, or recommended counseling services.

Planful provides a range of resources to enhance employee mental well-being. Visit our careers page for more information on our benefits, and check out this guide and tool from Movember on practicing conversations about mental health.

Planful’s Impactful Fundraising Initiatives and Achievements

I appreciate Planful’s strong commitment to the mental well-being of its employees and their dedication to providing a forum for me to share this message. Planful has played a pivotal role in facilitating various programs to support mental health.

In 2020, Planful successfully raised over $5,000 for our Movember cause, with employees collectively covering a total distance of 150 miles. This achievement has steadily improved over the years, as 2021 saw a remarkable increase to $5,540 in funds raised and 500 miles covered. In 2022, we continued this positive trend with $5,650 raised and an impressive 500 miles journeyed.

Graphic breaking down Planful's funraising efforts for Movember from 2020 to 2022.

Collectively, Planful has raised more than $16,000 for our cause. Personally, I have been fortunate to contribute over $5,000 during the last three years, thanks to the generous support of family, friends, and co-workers. If you would like to join me in supporting this effort, you can do so by visiting Planful’s Movember fundraising page.

Ending the Stigma: Stand Together for Men’s Mental Health

We’re all fighting a battle that no one knows about. Let’s stand beside each other to end the stigma associated with men’s mental health.

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