For many reasons, mental health is a complex, sometimes uncomfortable subject.
One of the goals of Mental Health Awareness Month, which is recognized every May, is to normalize conversations around mental health to raise awareness, help reduce the stigma, and inspire those facing similar challenges. And while we are certainly not experts on mental health, FullStory shares in that goal.
FullStorians are encouraged to show up authentically so they can be their best and highest selves at work—including mental health struggles, victories, and everything in between. We aim to be a workplace where conversations around mental health are commonplace, and employees feel empowered to prioritize their own mental health.
To illustrate what conversations like these can look like, FullStory Senior Sales Engineer Peter Antoniou, volunteered to share his journey with mental health for Mental Health Awareness Month.
Before we turn the mic over to Peter, it’s important to acknowledge that mental health conditions and challenges are expansive, can be compounding, and affect the lives of so many people across the globe. Hearing from others on their mental health journeys gives us an opportunity to learn from one another.
Q: First, tell us a little about yourself!
A: I joined FullStory in August of 2020 as the fourth hire to our Europe team, the first Sales Engineer in the region. My career has taken me to most of the key vendors in the early digital analytics space, including one of the initiators of the behavioral analytics space, Tealeaf.
At home, my family is the center of my world. I have three kids, one per decade (1999, 2007 and 2019)—two girls, one boy, and a beautiful wife who owns her own tech repair shop.
Once upon a time I was young and loved martial arts, played lead guitar in a band, promoted and produced house and drum and bass, and went out often. Now, if time permits, I'm working on my garden, taking my teenage/adult daughters out, or rolling around with my toddler.
Q: Tell us about your journey with your mental health.
A: It wasn’t until October of 2021, at the age of 42, that I was officially diagnosed with ADHD. However, that diagnosis was a long time coming. I started my career in 2000 and struggled with serious anxiety and, in turn, horrible panic attacks. At that time, these panic attacks made me feel defective both at work and in social settings.
Seven years into my career, still at my first job out of university, one of my newer managers recognized the signs of anxiety and reached out to me after work. He told me he had experienced serious depression and anxiety, and he understood how I felt. He also told me about the medication he was taking and how it helped him.
I was blown away—it was the first time someone had spoken to me about my anxiety, without simply making a negative comment, and the start of me realizing a) I'm not alone, and b) I'm not just a defective human being.
After joining FullStory, I found that I was no longer struggling with anxiety or depression. I was clearly very happy here, but I began to notice that some behaviors that I had always filed as personality traits started to become much more draining day to day. That's when a friend told me that he was diagnosed with ADHD, and many of his experiences and symptoms lined up with mine perfectly. Which is how I came to be formally diagnosed with ADHD.
Having ADHD caused me to be an anxious person, and left me feeling depressed at my differences from everyone else. ADHD has always been the root cause of my other mental health challenges.
Of course, receiving this diagnosis at age 42 has left me with many what-ifs from my past. But mostly, I'm just happy that we got to the bottom of it so I can keep moving forward.
Q2: What made you feel comfortable discussing your mental health journey with others at FullStory?
A: When I got my diagnosis, I immediately wanted to tell my managers and anyone else working closely with me. It's a million miles away from how I felt 20 years ago, even five years ago at my previous employer. This is not just because the topic has become more widely spoken about in those years, but also because of the empathetic culture at Fullstory.
The environment at Fullstory gave me the confidence to be open about my diagnosis. The conversation with my manager at the time gave me the confidence to be open about everything I had experienced on this rollercoaster. The manager-employee wall disappeared, and we had an open conversation that felt like a talk between close friends.
Q3: Why is it important that companies not only acknowledge, but provide additional conversations and resources to employees around mental health?
A: For me, it is essential we feel we can be open in the workplace, and that we can find support for the challenges that we’re facing outside of work. Understanding how each other thinks and feels creates a more open, honest, and supportive work environment.
Mental Health Awareness Month reminds us that each person’s mental health journey is entirely unique to them. At FullStory, our goal is that employees feel safe and supported to prioritize their mental health. We rely on two of our watchwords—empathy and trust—to ensure that all FullStorians not only feel cared for, but trust that they are working in a supportive environment.
Here are a few of the ways FullStory aims to support employee mental health:
All FullStorians have access to Modern Health, a platform that provides personalized mental health resources for each individual.
Employees have unlimited Paid Time Off (PTO), and are consistently encouraged to use it.
Regular #FullCircle discussions: We know that events happening outside of work deeply affect how we show up for work, so, we hold discussions to provide judgment-free safe spaces for FullStorians to discuss and process some of the tougher things going on in the world.
Of course, the work is never done. Our goal is to continue to shape an environment in which FullStorians feel they can prioritize and be open about mental health needs.