05/08/2020|Inside Verizon

Help for your heart and mind.

By: Katie Regner

On this episode of Wellness Friday, we talk DIAL and Neurodiversity.

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Wellness Friday

On this episode of Wellness Friday, Katie Regner spoke with Krista Hinman, Global Co-lead of DIAL (Disability Issues Awareness Leaders) ERG and Matt Johnstone, Global co-lead of the Verizon Media Neurodiversity ERG.

Krista on her own story and DIAL

Krista has an invisible illness that took a long time to be diagnosed. She chose not to discuss this with her co-workers until a series of strokes caused her to need an extended hospitalization and recovery period, which included speech therapy.

Once she came forward, her team and the DIAL ERG were incredibly supportive. “Verizon is a great place to be your true self,” said Krista.

Kirsta points out that one in four people globally have a disability and up to 45% of the US population lives with a chronic illness. “At DIAL, we welcome not only those with disabilities but anyone with an interest, including caregivers for those with disabilities,” said Krista.

The COVID-19 situation has caused Krista to lose access to some of the treatments that keep her healthy. “That can be frightening. The positive side is how much of an increase there has been in telehealth and telemedicine, and I  now have access to more medical providers,” said Krista.

Krista reminds us that we should be aware that each of us is having a different experience during this time. “Caring for your mental health and wellness can be hard for some people. This is a cumbersome experience for some, but for others this could be a welcome chance to spend more time with their kids and families.”

One of the key pillars of both DIAL and Neurodiversity is accessibility for all Verizon employees. Krista shared the video story of Sylvia Bernert. When her call center closed, Sylvia, who is legally blind, found a way forward with the help of her V team.

Matt discussed the Neurodiversity ERG

For Matt, who has ADHD, the mission of the Neurodiversity ERG is to empower all minds, knowing no two minds work exactly the same way.

Matt introduced a video about Danielle Volen who shares her story dealing with an eating disorder and her experience with the Neurodiversity ERG.

Some key facts:

  • Over 800,00 Americans have a stroke each year, and almost 130,000 people die from it (citation)

  • Stroke is the leading cause of disability in the US (citation)

  • More than 43 million American adults have had a form of mental illness in the past year. This represents nearly 18 percent of all American adults (citation)

  • 35% of stroke survivors experience depression and over 25% of survivors experience anxiety and/or post traumatic stress (citation)

Advice for dealing with the current COVID-19 crisis

“This time is hard on our brains. It’s scary,” said Matt. “There is so much emotion tied up in it, so it’s so important that we have patience, both with those around you who are having a hard time, and patience with yourself, knowing this is a difficult time.”

“Self-care is really important and is very different for different people,” reminded Krista. “For me, it’s about taking a moment to step away from my computer and get some fresh air. For others, it’s something else. But give yourself permission to care for yourself.”

Krista and Matt urged anyone with an interest or a need to join their groups. Disability and neurodiversity crosses all racial, geographic and socio-economic lines.

Our ERGs have identified May as “Hearts and Minds” month, as it’s Mental Health Awareness and Stroke Awareness month. Some upcoming events:

  • May 13 - Neurodiversity and Mental Health in the time of COVID-19

  • May 21 - Global Accessibility Day

  • May 27 - Stroke as an Acquired Neurodivergence livestream

If you want to learn more on these issues go here (Verizon Media folks should go here via The Street).

And if you’d like more info on our employee resource groups, go here (Verizon Media folks should go here via The Street).

About the author:

Katie is a member of the Verizon Corporate Communications team and a regular host of Up To Speed. She's a new mom with a passion for show tunes trying to keep up with the latest trends in tech.

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