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Leading by example: San Francisco company co-founder promotes therapy and mental health days

“I say I go through the same things everyone else does, which gives employees the right to use a mental health day,” Yip says. “Recognizing that it’s okay to be stressed or burnt out creates psychological safety. After that, you need time. Business leaders need to make sure they give employees time and space to process how they feel, along with structured benefits and support. It’s the formula for how a company should think about mental health.

Because of Yip’s willingness to share his feelings, his employees are quick to follow suit. For example, the company’s Chief Content Officer recently posted this away message: “In this Mental Health Awareness Month, Blueboard gave every employee a Mental Health Day and today I’m taking the mine. I may be sleeping, deep cleaning my apartment, frolicking in a field, lying in a ray of sunshine, painting with my fingers, looking at flowers… in short, I am disconnected, I prioritize my well-being. (Hopefully you can do the same this long weekend, if you’re in the US.). I will respond to your message as soon as possible when I get back to the office next Tuesday.

According to the Blueboard study, more than half (52%) of American workers feel that their employer is not doing enough to support employee mental health in the face of potential stress from current world events. Additionally, only 29% say their employer has increased their mental health support because of everything that has happened around the country and the world in the past few months.

Yip understands how employees feel when their employers don’t value their mental health. In fact, that’s how Blueboard came to be.

Working as an accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Yip had to burn the midnight oil during year-end audits. Due to the departure of some colleagues, he was forced to work 90 to 100 hours a week for about two and a half months. At the end of the hell he gained 20 pounds and his girlfriend was about to break up with him.

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