-Business Name and what it does
My business is Kim LaMontagne, LLC. Using my proprietary methodology in my corporate training, The 4 Pillars of Creating a Mentally Healthy Workplace Culture, I teach leaders how to create a culture in the workplace where everyone feels safe speaking openly about mental health without fear of judgment, retribution, or job loss.
-Founder’s/Owner’s story and what motivated them to start the business
I was a top performing corporate professional, trailblazer, mentor, coach and leader.
To everyone else, I appeared happy, confident, strong and a great communicator. Inside, I felt unworthy, ashamed, incapable and like an imposter. I hid behind a mask of fear and shame in the workplace with undisclosed depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and alcohol misuse. I remained silent and never asked for help because I feared being seen as weak or incapable, and terrified of tarnishing my professional integrity.
I was a nightly wine-drinker. My typical serving of wine was 5-6-7-8 glasses a night, followed by blackouts and hangovers. My high performance hid the fact that I was struggling with alcohol misuse and mental health challenges.
On July 16, 2009, I found the courage to remove my mask, finally ask for help, and began my journey of sobriety. But it wasn’t until 2016 that I found the courage to speak openly about it in the workplace.
During recovery, I experienced deep depression, anxiety, isolation and a suicide attempt. Through it all, I remained a top performer, suffering behind my mask of high performance to hide the intensity of my pain. I remained silent because I was ashamed to be in recovery. That shame stemmed from the debilitating stigma associated with alcohol misuse and mental health struggles.
I was ashamed that I had quit drinking because I still considered myself an ‘alcoholic,’ a word bathed in negativity and covered in stigma. I no longer use the word alcoholic. I have also removed the words ‘addict,’ ‘psycho,’ ‘nuts,’ ‘junkie,’ ‘crazy,’ ‘schizophrenic,’ ‘on the wagon,’ ‘off the wagon’ and countless more from my vocabulary.
I have replaced them with person-centered words, like ‘person living with addiction,’ ‘person living with a mental health condition,’ ‘person experiencing trauma,’ or ‘person in recovery.’
It wasn’t until I shifted to person-centered language that I discovered I am not an alcoholic. I am a person living with alcohol use disorder.
Words matter, quite literally.
Changing to a person-centered language changed my life.
At 12 years sober and healthy, I now see this as an opportunity to bring my experience forward and teach leaders how to create a mentally healthy workplace culture; a culture where everyone feels safe enough to come forward and ask for help.
On April 1, 2020, I stepped away from my corporate job, left my salary and all benefits on the table, started Kim LaMontagne, LLC and developed a curriculum called, The 4 Pillars of Creating and Sustaining a Mentally Healthy Workplace Culture. Now, I teach corporate leaders how to create a workplace culture that fosters open dialog about mental health.
Countless leaders have approached me after hearing my story to share with me that they, too, are or have experienced mental health challenges. They’re also telling me they need solutions to support employee mental health as they navigate through challenging times.
Available in person, virtual, or on-demand, The 4 Pillars is a full-day corporate training program is a solution that teaches leaders how to:
* Recognize the impact of unaddressed mental health in the workplace
* Share the lived experience to bring the human connection to mental health
* Change the perception of mental health and decrease stigma
* Create an environment of safety in the workplace
Change starts at the top. By training leaders to open the conversation about mental health in the workplace, we empower employees to speak their truth and remove blockages to peak performance. The most powerful organizations make it possible for individuals to remove the mask of fear and shame and speak openly about mental health in the workplace.
-The challenges the business/market is facing
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was less discussion about mental health in the workplace. The pandemic has illustrated that mental health can affect anyone and it does not discriminate. COVID-19 has exposed the fragility of mental health around the globe and thrusted the topic of mental health in the workplace to the top of the list of a CEO’s concerns.
According to the Census Bureau, more than one-third of Americans have displayed clinical signs of anxiety, depression or both since the COVID-19 pandemic started. When it comes to the workplace, a national poll by Pew Research found this number jumped to a whopping 55 percent for people experiencing financial difficulties.
The same poll also revealed some shocking numbers for mental health in the workplace, with only half of employees saying they felt comfortable discussing mental health issues. A full third worried about retaliation or being fired if they sought mental health care.
Last year, McKinsey & Company released a report called Mental Health in the Workplace: The Coming Revolution, that recognized employees need, and are increasingly demanding more and better resources to help them cope with mental health challenges. This report also states that “if companies make mental health services more accessible and intervene in the workplace in ways that improve well-being, they will simultaneously make investments that will provide real improvements in employee outcomes and consequently in company performance.”
-The opportunities the business/market is facing
Mental health is becoming a top priority for many CEOs. Leaders are now recognizing how critical it is to create a safe workplace culture that fosters open dialog about mental health. However, many CEOs report feeling unprepared to identify and support an employee in distress.
I fill that gap by teaching leaders the skills they need to be confident they can navigate difficult conversations around mental health. Leaders do not need to be counselors, but they do need to know how to identify an employee in distress, have the courage and confidence to open the dialog, listen with empathy, identify resources and crosswalk the employee to professional resources.
Lives depend on it.
My goal is to eradicate stigma in the workplace by teaching leaders how to create safe spaces for individuals to come forward. This means training leaders using my methodology in The 4 Pillars of Creating and Sustaining a Mentally Healthy Workplace Culture.
To bring this training to larger audiences, I recently partnered with Gibson Insurance, HR Collaborative, Nurseify, NursesBond, New Hampshire Governor’s – Recovery Friendly Workplace Initiative, and Show Me your Stethoscope to bring training solutions and mental health resources to their clients and members. Additionally, I have joined forces with John Broderick, Former Chief Justice, New Hampshire Supreme Court to amplify the message that mental health does not discriminate, and we must talk about it. Judge Broderick’s family was impacted by mental illness. He openly shares his experience to normalize the conversation about mental health.
-Advice to others about business
When you are starting a business, it is critical to surround yourself with people who understand your vision and bring valuable skills to your team. When I first started Kim LaMontagne, LLC, I was the sole person behind the brand.
Today, I have a team that includes an executive assistant, a web designer, a web developer, a graphic designer, a social media strategist, and an accredited public relations specialist. Every person on my team brings unique skills to the table and contributes to growing my mission and vision.
Many new business owners believe they can do it on their own and end up spending countless hours on tasks that take them away from their true passion and purpose. By investing in a team, you can focus on the mission and your goals, and let the team take care of the details.
My team tells me to “dream big Kim and let us worry about the ‘how’.” That is a recipe to rise and make the biggest impact possible.
About Kim LaMontagne
Kim LaMontagne, MBA, is an international speaker, trainer and mental health in the workplace expert and advocate. She is a teacher and state trainer with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a member of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Campaign to Combat Behavioral Health Stigma and Discrimination and a regular contributor on the topic of mental health for Show Me Your Stethoscope, a Facebook group of 640,000 nurses and healthcare professionals. She is also the author of “It’s Ok to Not Be Ok,” and a contributing author of “The Strength of our Anchors.” A complimentary training consultation can be scheduled at kimlamontagne.net or by email at [email protected]