Utah non-profit aims to normalize conversation on mental health in workplace

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) -Two Utahns have created a non-profit organization designed to support employee mental health.

In an effort to normalize the conversation on mental well-being, Trent Mano and Rachel Merrill, launched ‘Room Here’, a non-profit focused on mental fitness and healthier minds in the workplace.

“Our goal is for every company in Utah to take the pledge to create a mental fitness plan for their company. The reason why we are starting in the workplace is because we know people spend most of their waking hours at work,” said co-founder of Room Here, Trent Mano.

Mano and Merrill got the idea for Room Here last March when they had some friends within their tech startup and entrepreneurial network die by suicide. So, they began to start bringing people together for an hour or so every few weeks to talk about mental health/mental fitness and soon, it turned into the creation of the non-profit, Room Here.

“We tried to focus on mental fitness instead of mental health because mental health has such a stigma,” said Merrill. “People can be like, ‘that is so cool but, I don’t have clinical depression so that’s not for me but I’m so glad you’re helping people out there that need it’. But we say, ‘well, have you ever been burnt out, or way stressed out?’…that is exactly why we are talking about mental fitness. We all have a body, and just how we take care of our body with physical fitness, we need to take care of our body with mental fitness. Mental fitness is for everybody.”

The non-profit startup launched last week with the organization making the world’s largest cardboard box fort ever at the Gateway in Salt Lake City.

Individuals can personally sign the pledge at Roomhere.org to become ‘roomies.’ Even better, company leaders can sign the pledge in an effort to evaluate their company’s mental health culture and then make a clear plan to improve.

Room Here has specific resources for individuals and companies looking to improve their mental fitness such as guides and articles that have already been helpful for business leaders who have started to do things for mental fitness.

Room Here has also gathered stories from notable business leaders in Utah with them sharing their journey with mental fitness.

Johnny Hanna’s (CEO of Homie) mental fitness story

Mano and Merrill have said that the response to their Room Here launch has been rewarding.

“The fact that we have had so many strangers reach out and tell us their experiences as it relates to their own mental health struggles just shows how much people are looking for someone that they can talk to that they can trust. It is just so obvious to us of how big of a need this is,” said Mano.

“Utah consistently ranks on the low-end for mental well-being and that is indicator enough that something has to happen in Utah,” said Merrill. “We all have huge ups and downs in life. So many things have been turned upside down and flipped around and changed recently. Whether the change has been positive or negative, it’s had a huge effect on people learning how to adapt and adjust and that can have a lot of strain on your mental well-being.”

If you would like to personally sign the pledge to join the mental fitness journey and become a ‘roomie’ you can sign the pledge here.

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