Everyone at the Table
Everyone at the Table is a series that explores everyday topics from the perspective of people... with different perspectives!
Good afternoon from New York City and welcome to everyone at the table. I'm Hady Mendez, your host and the global lead for Cloudflare's Latinx employee resource group.
As a reminder, employee resource groups are formed by employees of underrepresented groups who share common characteristics such as race or sexual preference.
ERGs foster inclusion and belonging in the workplace. Everyone at the table is a series that brings together members of different ERGs and allows us to explore everyday topics from the perspective of people with different perspectives.
To make sure everyone has an equal opportunity to speak and have their voice heard, I will serve as the moderator.
As a reminder to all of our viewers, we will be taking your questions at live studio at Cloudflare.tv.
Today on our show we have representatives from MindFlare, SoberFlare and other ERGs from around the company.
Our conversation will focus on mental health and self-care, a topic near and dear to my heart.
I'd like to start off by inviting the panel to share your name, what office you're from and what ERG you're representing today.
So Kevin, would you like to kick us off?
Hi, I'm Kevin Claypeck and I'm in the San Francisco office and I'm representing MindFlare, our mental health ERG.
Thank you. I'm Mariana and I'm Ilagan. I'm based in the San Francisco office as well.
I'm representing WomenFlare, AsianFlare, but I'm also as an internal events coordinator supporting and involved with every ERG.
So you're representing all the flares.
Got it, Mariana. Kind of. And how about you, Shannon?
Hi, I'm Shannon. I'm from the San Francisco office and I'm representing ProudFlare and WomenFlare.
Awesome. So welcome to everyone. I think we're expecting one more person on our panel, so hopefully he'll be here soon.
But in preparation, I'm going to kick things off.
So in preparation for today, I have been reflecting on my own mental health, which I think is something that we all should be doing pretty regularly.
And I have to share that I have experienced a lot of emotions over the last few months.
Everything from fear to worry, to sadness, to anger and frustration, kind of my feelings have really run the gamut, my emotions.
And the way it shows up the most for me is at bedtime. I have a really hard time sleeping and I have had a really hard time getting good rest for weeks now.
So panel, what other kinds of mental health issues do you think our employees might be facing right now?
Do you want to start us off, Kevin? Yeah, so I guess my own kind of baggage is anxiety and depression.
I have a history of that. I personally wasn't like diagnosed until I was in my 20s.
So I had like, about a decade of kind of figuring this out myself and trying to, I think we all learn coping mechanisms that we don't really realize are coping mechanisms at the time.
But yeah, for me personally, I think a lot of people are feeling a little depressed and especially the loneliness of being isolated.
I definitely feel that myself. Yeah. Good to know.
Mariana, have you heard or experienced anything else in terms of what health, mental health issues our employees are going through?
Yeah, I definitely second Kevin.
The anxiety is really high right now, as well as I don't know if this is officially a condition, but as a strong emotion, grief is legitimately something.
I think we're all going through grieving for some people, like people, loved ones, but as well as like the community that they lost or the in-person community they lost, the plans that they had.
I know that many, many ERGs had so many plans for in -person community events, outreach events that we've had to let go of.
I've been grieving the former iteration of my job where I'm an extrovert, love doing events in person, and now it's all virtual.
So grief is a real feeling that I think a lot of us have been going through.
Absolutely. That's a good one. Thanks for naming it, Mariana.
Welcome to our call or our segment, Jason. I'm going to give you an opportunity to introduce yourself in a minute.
I wanted Shannon to kind of finish off the thought on what kinds of mental health issues employees, people in general are kind of facing right now.
Yeah, I'd say in addition to what Kevin and Mariana said, confusion over what the truth is and what actions to take in response to the truth.
I think because we are experiencing global issues that impact us differently at local and individual levels, it can be really hard to handle the amount of information coming our way across all different media platforms.
And sometimes we find that certain things we believe to be true are not always the best action to take after all.
I mean, let's take like 8 Can't Wait, for example. That was shared widely as like an action you could take for defunding police, but over time it was found that might not be consistent with what Black Lives Matter wants.
So I think confusion has come up as an overwhelming feeling for a lot of people and cause people to need to step back and figure out ways to cope and discern the truth and then make an action plan of what steps they can take.
That's a great point. Thanks, Shannon.
So Jason, welcome to the call. Welcome to our segment. Do you mind just introducing yourself, telling us what office you're in and what ERG you represent?
And then if you don't mind weighing in on the first question, what are some kind of mental health issues you think our employees are facing right now?
So just tell us who you are first and then maybe try answering the question.
You're on mute.
So my name is Jason Jenkins.
Hi, everybody. I work out of the Austin office.
I'm in business development at Cloudflare. I'm here representing SoberFlare, which is an ERG that promotes and wants to destigmatize the negative concepts that go around people who abstain from alcohol.
And I guess I think in today's world that we're living in, there's a lot of stressors that we're feeling that can affect our mental health.
I think that people don't have an outlet of getting together with people like they normally would.
And so I think that's what's challenging right now is that the lack of being together with your friends, being able to talk outside of just a Zoom meeting.
And I think that that's an area that we're seeing people having challenging times with right now.
Yeah, that's such a good point. Like community and like social interaction.
We're social animals, socially. Yeah, like we like being around other people and like hugging and kissing.
I mean, some of us like it a little bit more.
I'm Latina, so I'm like a big hugger, kisser, toucher kind of person.
But I know what you mean. Like we need each other and like Zoom is not enough.
Yeah, that's such a great point. Thanks, guys. Thank you all. I really appreciate that.
Yeah, thanks, Mariana with the snap. So in light of all this, and it sounds like people are going through like a range of emotions, you know, like a lot.
There's a lot out there. What kind of support systems and resources do employees have around getting help?
Do you mind kind of telling us a little bit, Kevin, as the as the lead for MindFlare, where, like kind of where do you direct some of your members to go?
And I'd love to hear from all of you. But I want to start with Kevin.
Yeah, so we do have a wiki space and just some resources around like what the company offers.
One of the resources we do offer is Ginger, which is ginger.io.
It's a company that provides like a 24-hour service for behavioral health coaching.
And it's via an app. One of the things I find with mental health generally is it's not a one fits all kind of solution.
So it can be tricky to find the right kind of solution for you.
But I think starting that journey and starting that process and trying different things is like kind of the best thing for the best place to start, essentially.
Yeah, you're right. And you know, Kevin, you bring up a good point or you alluded to a good point, which is like, it requires self-reflection, you know, like you need to kind of figure out what feeds you and what's going to make you kind of feel better, give you life type thing.
And you should be thinking about it often.
I heard someone and I forget where I was when I saw this question, but someone asked like, how often should I do self-care?
Like every day, all day, every day.
Come on, guys, like obvious. All right, Mariana, you want to kind of give us a little bit more insight into what other resources are available for employees?
Absolutely. So physical health and mental health are tied in together.
And I can talk a little bit more about this later, but exercise gives you endorphins.
And I hate exercise, but I force myself to do it for the sake of the people around me because I'm just much more pleasant when I'm flooded with endorphins and Cloudflare offers.
We partner with local instructors in Singapore, in the UK, and here in San Francisco to live stream, hit yoga, pitfall Pilates and meditation classes.
So I'm really grateful that that is provided to us, including recordings.
Yeah, that's awesome. That's great. I was going to add to that.
If you can't exercise every day, which I still think you should, or at least three times a week, doing a sauna for 30 minutes a day actually is shown to have like similar side effects.
Cool. Well, that's good to know. I used to do like salt treatment.
I used to go to a salt room and sit in there and breathe in the salt air that was supposed to be really good for you for like a variety, like allergies and skin and like breathing and like all kinds of stuff.
So anyone else, anything to add around resources before we move on to our next question?
Yeah, I can quickly add.
Now I want to go to an onsen in Japan because that is the vibe that I'm getting from this discussion.
I'd say that also Cloudflare just offers a lot of flexibility around if you need to take time off or you need to structure your day where you're doing meetings, this part, and then you're going to go do meditation for an hour and then do more work on your computer and then go for a run.
Like working from home has afforded that flexibility. And I've noticed that managers and teammates are so understanding.
So it's a really wonderful perk.
That's a great point, Shannon. Thank you. Jason, did you want to add something? Yes, I just, well, I think that also keep an eye out for what's going on with the various ERGs, employee resource groups.
I know that Afroflare took the initiative with self-care and they had an interactive series that they started designed to kind of introduce us to self-care strategies from like breathing techniques to self -soothing.
And it went off extremely well. It was a great opportunity to kind of address a subject that is not commonly talked about in the workplace and bringing it to light, I think, to tie in is why our management in Cloudflare as a company is so open to working around us is because we are talking about it.
If we don't bring it to light, then it just festers within.
Yeah, that's a great point. Thank you for bringing that up.
Does, so it sounds like Afroflare saw a very unique need in their membership to kind of provide a series on healing, self-care, self-soothing, you know, that type thing.
Does anyone know, or are you all involved with any additional programs that were developed to support employees right now?
Sorry, go ahead, Jason.
No, I mean, I know that we're working with, you know, MindFlare as far as, you know, working on putting together a kind of something that can be an opportunity for people to gather together and just regurgitate some of the feelings that they have going on and, you know, a way to, you know, get some techniques and some different perspectives on how to address those.
I mean, I think that that's going to be the key component.
So just that'll be to be determined, but we're in the process of linking that up.
Yeah, and I was just going to add to that, like one of our colleagues, Uma, in our London office is doing mindfulness kind of sessions on Wednesday mornings now.
So that's a good session for like us to kind of come together and just take a collective breath before like we either start our day or end our day.
So yeah, I've really enjoyed that. That's right. I've had the privilege of attending one of those sessions.
It's incredible. Mariano, Shannon, would either one of you talk a little bit about, want to talk a little bit about what WomenFlare is doing?
I know you guys have had game nights. You've had some listening sessions around what's happening with Black Lives Matter and like anti-racism, like what programs are being developed for your members to kind of get through this time?
Mariano, would you want to talk about WomenFlare and then I can talk about ProudFlare?
Sure. For WomenFlare, which is our ERG for people who identify as women in Cloudflare, we have been having regular weekly hangouts, spa nights, game nights, movie nights, closed door lunches to process like our own learning and our own process regarding the racism that we are seeing being discussed.
I don't want to say that's happening because it's always happening, but that's being brought to light and discussed much more now, which I'm grateful for.
Additionally, I've noticed as someone who helps with almost every event in every ERG, a high uptick in collaboration between ERGs.
Now that we're all at home, we don't have to worry about long commutes.
We are able to collaborate, I want to say three times as much on events.
Just to give one example, the awesome documentary Disclosure premiered on Netflix and it's a documentary examining representation of trans people in Hollywood created by trans filmmakers featuring exclusively trans voices such as Yance Ford and MJ Rodriguez and Lauren Cox and ProudFlare, WomenFlare and AfroFlare all collaborated on that.
We were able to bring together people with overlapping identities, like acknowledging your whole person that you could be part of different ERGs and we're seeing that more in community events.
That's not one single program, but you know what I mean? It's a good trend to have.
Shannon, you want to add to that? Absolutely. Thanks, Mariana. Yeah, I love that.
I love what you just talked about because it's about the intersectional nature of the ERGs and how a lot of folks can help support each other across cross-cutting issues.
For ProudFlare, this is pride month and we just hosted a pride event last Thursday.
We did two sessions. One was in the morning, one was in the night, global company.
We want to make sure people can join from all over and there was a lot of self-care infused into the events.
We did educational sessions about the history of pride.
We did EFT tapping, which is a way to release trapped negative energy in your body and let that stuff go.
We did mocktail cocktail making, so if you want to just relax at the end of the day, you can use really creative libations.
And dancing, girl. We have some dancing. Yes, we did a drag performance and everyone was dancing on screen.
It was super fun. I think events like that are really high impact.
I know I went in kind of feeling meh and then walked out feeling very enamored.
Yeah, I attended both sessions and I left full of life as well.
Those sessions, there was so much joy, so much joy.
You looked at everybody's face and how happy everyone was just dancing and just like being themselves and being free.
There's a lot to say about being able to do that.
It felt real, felt IRL. All right guys, let's see. I'm wondering if Kevin and Jason can talk a little bit about what makes these times especially challenging for people that struggle with addiction or depression.
Maybe Jason, you can start us off.
Yeah, so what happens with people who are struggling with addiction and it ties in with depression as well is that during times of isolation, they don't have the traditional access to resources and meetings for instance.
Whether they're in a 12-step program, they do have them in Zoom rooms, but it's not the same.
That's a very critical point where people start to isolate and left to their own devices and they can slip into relapse.
That relapse thing can tie into depression over that relapse and it can lead to self-harm and things like that.
I think that these times being bombarded constantly with the news and the news is not good at times.
The majority of the times it isn't good.
They don't have that opportunity again since we are social creatures to link up and express that.
I think that also the concern is for people who may not be addicts, but during these times are turning more to using alcohol as a means to cope.
That is an opportunity to be mindful of what could potentially lead to a problem for them.
Absolutely. Thank you, Jason.
Kevin, can you talk a little bit about how this is a challenging time, especially for people who might suffer with chronic depression?
Yeah. For me, it's a little different because isolation is my default.
That's where I feel comfortable.
That's where I go to when I feel bad, essentially. I'm self-aware enough that I know that, but I have to work at not giving into this isolation, I guess.
I'll do meetings, walking, going for a walk. If I don't need to be at a computer, I'll go for a walk and just talk.
It becomes a very familiar place that's not healthy, I guess, would be the best way.
I get you. Thank you.
That's honest and I appreciate that. Shannon and Mariana, could either of you or both of you talk a little bit about some suggestions you have for managing the constant barrage of images and videos related to racial violence and injustice that we've all been seeing and exposed to over the last few weeks?
Sure. For managing it, I think you can't shy away from it.
Some people can put their paws in social media or whatnot.
For me, it feels wrong to disengage completely. What I've done is I've tried to balance all the unfortunate negative news with listening to inspiring leaders, watching Michelle Obama's documentary on Netflix, listening to speeches by Barack Obama, listening to speeches by Laverne Cox, just remembering that inspiring leaders are out there, change is happening.
The youth, the next generation, is super engaged.
They are, to borrow this term, my 15-year-old brother's generation is more woke than any other generation previously.
I need to remember that I need hope and there are places where to get it from.
That's what I do. I balance that.
That's a great suggestion for managing it. How about you, Shannon? What do you find works for you?
I agree with Mariana that it's impossible to avoid this stuff.
It's very important to be engaged. I think what I found is we have to have a natural stopping point.
As I start doing a lot of research on the history of slavery and all of its legacy systems and looking at all the systems, you can go down a lot of rabbit holes that lead you dark places.
It's like a totem. You have to have something that pulls you back, whether that's a really positive mantra or leaving your computer and your research and the actions that you're taking to help out and just doing the self -care.
I've started adopting kundalini yoga and a lot of vinyasa yoga, a lot of running, and just shifting away from the computer to just things that are in the body so that, like Mariana said earlier, you just get the endorphins going.
I find that then I can balance the darkness and the light a little bit more clearly.
Yeah, that is very nice. We're going to talk about self-care in one second.
I had a quick question for you all and all of you don't have to answer it, but if you do know the answer to this question, what are some warning signs that a person might need to reach out for help, for some professional help?
Let's answer that question and then I'm going to kind of wrap it up.
I think for some key warning signs can definitely be when they stop their normal means of communication.
So like pattern behavior has changed when they seem to be a little bit abrasive to your typical, hey, how's it going?
You're doing, how's your day going?
How are things going? They seem to be short, less patient, I think are signs, at least for me, especially with addiction and that ties into mental as well.
Thanks, Jason. Anyone else? This is a difficult one because I think it is so different for so many people, but yeah, isolations I think is a big one, like cutting off social circles or any kind of support system.
And yeah, just to kind of, like Jason's kind of right on, just like major changes in behavior is probably something to look out for.
Yeah. Ladies, any additional comments?
The one other thing I'd say is for anyone who is like an ally to someone with addiction, I found this book really, really helpful.
It's called The Neuroscience of Addiction by Judith Grizzle and it just goes into what is happening in the world right now.
It's really well written and she's a PhD neuroscientist who was an addict too, like found herself out of that path.
So highly recommend that.
Thanks, Shannon. All right, guys, we have four minutes. So in the next two minutes, I would like you all to tell me what you're doing for self -care.
So I will tell you that to address my sleeping problem, I bought a weighted blanket.
I heard it was really helpful for people who had trouble sleeping. So I decided to give it a try.
It was like a very small investment and it's working. It's working for me.
It's making a difference. I'm sleeping better. I'm getting good rest.
What are you all doing for self-care right now? Again, we have about two minutes.
Mariana, why don't you start us off? Sure. I mentioned exercise and I have been doing that, but really the reason I exercise is because the people around me, specifically my husband, say that like I am just a much more patient and pleasant to be around person when I do have exercise.
And the deeper level of that is remembering that if I can't be motivated to do it for myself, do it for the people around me, do it for the people who have to interact with me.
My yoga teacher says self-care is not selfish.
Take care of yourself so that you can take care of others.
Amen. For me, that really works to remember that. Awesome. Shannon, how about you?
We have one minute. Writing and running. Nice. Okay. Love that. Kevin, how about you?
Practicing gratitude. Practicing gratitude. That's a great one. Fantastic.
Jason, how about you? Doing for others. So just giving to those who are less fortunate seems to be a way to recharge batteries that can't be recharged elsewhere.
Oh, that sounds so nice. You guys are great. I'm so happy you're my colleagues.
I have such wonderful colleagues to work with. Well, I appreciate that, guys.
I hope we've given our viewers some food for thought in terms of things that they could be trying.
But unfortunately, we're at our time. So a big thank you to all of you for coming today and for sharing and providing resources and giving us some good context around mental health and wellness.
Really appreciate you guys.
You are really experts. So thank you for that. Next week, we're going to be talking about books on Everyone at the Table.
So we hope everyone's going to join us to find out what we're reading and what books are on our short list to read.
We're also going to be recommending books to our viewers. So we hope that everyone will come back next Tuesday at the same time as we talk about everything books.
And now I'm going to talk about our good news story of the week, which is good.
This is part of self -care. It's like reading good news. The COVID-19 pandemic has been especially hard on elderly people, and we know that.
But this care home in Brazil has come up with a creative solution allowing seniors to connect with their loved ones while still keeping them safe from infection.
The way they do it is they've created something called a hug tunnel, and it has armholes for visitors and residents to wrap their arms around each other, but there's like a plastic sheeting in between them.
And think of like Bubble Boy from Seinfeld is kind of that same theory.
And the plastic even has armholes at different heights to accommodate children and even people in wheelchairs.
It gives people the opportunity to feel the warmth of human contact without risking coming into contact with coronavirus.
So it's beautiful. And it's catching fire around the world.
So now other people are starting to create these hug tunnels and elderly folks and their loved ones are able to connect in a very heartwarming way.
So I love that. That's like super nice news. I'm happy to hear we're doing something like that.
Um, so yeah, up next is more more Cloudflare TV. So I encourage everyone to stay on.
And once again, a big thank you to all of our viewers for joining us at Everyone at the Table where your point of view is valued, appreciated and heard.
See you next week. So you