We are in the midst of a global pandemic that poses a significant threat to life as we know it. As business owners, we have poured our heart, soul, passion and finances into causes we really care about; to see everything we have worked hard for being affected so rapidly by the current situation is both humbling and jarring.

But as human beings, the impact of this crisis is even more profound.

We’re navigating a new world and we don’t have access to human connection like we did mere weeks ago. The lives of many are at risk, especially the elderly and the immunocompromised. It’s normal to feel anxious about the health and wellbeing of our team, our friends, our families and ourselves right now.

Yet, I write this from a place of privilege. I still have a great business. I have a roof over my head. I get to see my team of incredibly talented and resilient humans smiling out of my computer screen every day.

I’m in good health, both physically and mentally. But I’d be lying if I said the latter was always true.

Not many people know this story about me. It’s a deeply personal thing to speak about your own mental health battles on a public platform. But now feels like an important time to be brave and share my journey, in the hope that it could maybe help others.

Some time ago, I was involved in a workplace incident which caused depression and was unable to work for a year. This experience changed me entirely, to a point where I no longer recognised myself.

At the time, I knew I needed help. I didn’t want to be a victim. I spent that year doing some deep work to try and understand how I got to where I was and why the experience affected me so deeply. While it was one of the most difficult years of my life, I’m grateful for the awareness and appreciation it gave me for having good mental health.

In fact, the reason I founded frank green was because I came out of that experience wanting to dedicate my life to doing something with purpose and doing good by humanity. I wanted to make sure my situation could never happen again.

I recognise that with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the mental wellbeing of humanity is significantly at stake. Those who manage to remain unscathed by the risk of infection could suffer in other ways — some losing their jobs, others perhaps not knowing how they will pay the bills or feed their families. We are already seeing an increase in reports of domestic violence and humans taking their own life. This event in history and its consequences will continue to affect our mental health for years to come.

Two weeks ago, I saw the long line of people, extending far around the block, waiting to enter the South Melbourne Centrelink. I tried to put myself in their shoes and imaged what a toll standing in that line would have on my mental health. I realised that it was my responsibility — whether my business was negatively affected or not — to be a part of the solution. 

Because the reality is, it could be me waiting in that line. It could be any of us.

That’s why, as of today, frank green will be proudly donating $1 of every online order, and 5% of every wholesale order, to Beyond Blue. This incredible organisation has done so much amazing work to raise awareness about anxiety, depression and suicide prevention, and helped to remove the stigma of seeking help when people need it most. I know their phone lines will only get busier as this crisis continues and I want to make sure this vital service is able to reach as many people as possible.

Our world has never been more united, even though we’ve never been further apart. A shared vulnerability will do that. So it feels appropriate to act on this vulnerability and share my personal story today.

Who knows — maybe someone who’s in the same boat I was in several years ago will read it. And maybe it will encourage them to seek out the life jacket that Beyond Blue could give them, in a time when we’re all just trying to keep afloat. 

 

Ben Young

CEO and founder, frank green