We recently spoke with Mike Telesco, owner of the Telesco Creative Group and a founding member of the Anti-Stigma Coalition.
Why did your organization become a member of The Anti-Stigma Coalition?
Telesco Creative Group was asked in 2015 to help consult on an anti-stigma campaign centered around mental illness. We were just going to one meeting…but we never left. The cause and the people around the table inspired us to help make a change in our community. It was a real grassroots effort and we all rolled up our sleeves and just made this happen. A five-year campaign has turned into 7+ years and we are still going strong. There is still work to be done, but I believe, we are helping to change perceptions, language and actions around mental health and illness in our community.
How are people with mental health challenges impacted by stigma?
Stigma is a barrier to treatment for anyone in need or unsure if they even need help. Fear of people looking at you differently. Fear of someone thinking you are less able to do a job. Fear that you will look weak. Sean McDermott said it best this week after the Damar Hamlin health emergency and a grueling week after, seeking help “is not a sign of weakness. If anything, it is a sign of strength.”
How does your company support mental wellness?
We try all kinds of things. Flexible schedules, hybrid options, an office pool table, open conversations, and this year, we are starting a 7th-inning stretch at 3pm every day. I think most of us are aware of the goals of the campaign since we are all very vested in it and being part of the campaign keeps the doors to conversations open. We try our best. We are there for each other. And hopefully, when someone is having a bad day, we can listen.