Kellogg’s expanded mental health benefits proves people are its heart & soul

By Wilson Ray, Senior Director of Retail Operations and Kapable co-chair, Kellogg Company

I don’t know about you, but I tend to develop the “winter blues” this time of year.

There’s the inevitable post-holiday letdown. There’s less sunlight – especially in the Upper Midwest snowbelt. And, of course, there are all the challenges we face with COVID right now.

On top of that, some people are dealing with personal tragedies. I’ve had my share. My daughter battles Borderline Personality Disorder and attempted suicide at one point. I lost a nephew to suicide. And I was reeling after my mother’s death in 2020.

That was a lot to handle while also coming to work every day and trying to excel at my job. I’m certainly not the only person who has dealt with a series of tragedies. Trouble is, talking about these things at work has traditionally been taboo.

I sought and received mental and emotional therapy after my mother passed. Yet, many people are afraid to admit they need help. There’s a stigma. 

Wilson at the 2021 Chicago Marathon supporting Pringles’ Movember sponsorship in support of men’s mental health.

Thankfully, Kellogg understands this and has taken major steps to break the stigma and prioritize our employees’ mental health. We’ve improved access to mental health care benefits and more than doubled the number of visits that are covered.

And this is huge – Kellogg has created Lean on Me, our own brand of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA). MHFA teaches you how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders. The training provides participants the skills needed to offer initial support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem and help connect them to the appropriate care.

Kellogg’s commitment to mental health doesn’t stop there. In 2021, it announced a new partnership with Verizon Media as a founding member of Mind Together to address the global mental health crisis. The coalition works together to destigmatize mental health at work and set a new standard in how employees are supported, while improving the overall workplace culture around mental health.

People are Kellogg’s heart and soul, and while the company still has work to do – as we all do – it’s committed to continuing to find ways to support employees’ mental health.

Finding strength through Kapable

One of my great passions at Kellogg is being involved with Kapable, our disability-related Business Employee Resource Group (BERG).

It’s the fastest-growing BERG at our company. Like other BERGs, we’re able to influence Kellogg’s work environment, and provide input on business initiatives and programs. 

Case in point: we just launched Winter Blues, a program that aims to make employees feel more comfortable talking about seasonal depression and other mental and emotional troubles that arise this time of year. Our Kapable team will share some tips for getting through it (exercise, making time with a friend, starting a new hobby, for example) and then ask colleagues to share how they beat the winter blues.

It may seem basic, but simply acknowledging the Winter Blues are a thing and talking about them is huge.

As someone who has really had to care for my mental and emotional health, I am so grateful that Kellogg has made mental health a priority. I’ve been with the company for 28 years and there are so many reasons why it’s a special place, but it starts with our people.

The company likes to say people are our competitive advantage (they are). But people are also the reason why so many of us enjoy coming to work every day.

We are wise to care for them – especially mentally.

For more on Kellogg’s Total Health benefits for U.S. salaried and U.S. non-union hourly employees, inclusive of Physical, Mental, Societal and Mental benefits, visit its site here.

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