At LifeSpeak, we believe expert-led education is the foundation of positive change. That belief is at the core of everything we do.
It began with our founder and CEO, Michael Held. Held started his career as a lawyer and management consultant. At the time, he witnessed his coworkers struggle to bring their best selves to work because of common mental health and wellbeing issues. He realized they needed support, and recognized it had to address both the stigma around mental health and the conditions themselves. He understood it needed to be confidential and easy to access too.
And so he started LifeSpeak. In the 17 years since, we’ve come a long way—not just as a company, but in the attitude towards mental health that permeates organizations around the world. We’ve all seen first-hand how powerful education can be.
Expert-led education is the best “first step” in any mental health and wellbeing journey. I emphasize expert-led for a reason. With so much information on the internet, and so little of it vetted, it’s easy to be misled. We have to make sure people are getting the “right” education.
Expert-led education can provide actionable advice to those suffering from a particular issue. It can show a person that they are not alone. It can help them understand when it’s time to seek clinical help. And it can reduce stigma, improving the way we view ourselves and the way we view others to create more inclusive, diverse and healthy communities.
As a result, we are delighted to recognize 2022 International Day of Education: Changing Course, Transforming Education.
The United Nations dubbed January 24 International Day of Education to celebrate the role of education in global peace and development. According to UNESCO, “transforming the future requires an urgent rebalancing of our relationships with each other, with nature as well as with technology that permeates our lives, bearing breakthrough opportunities while raising serious concerns for equity, inclusion and democratic participation.”
Today we are joining the celebration by sharing tips from our experts on how to promote education in three key areas—diversity, equity and inclusion.
Educating about the contributions of Indigenous People
In his LifeSpeak video Learning from Indigenous Youth, Indigenous Leader Stephen Paquette says learning about the unbelievable contributions Indigenous People have made to Canada’s history is helping Indigenous youth feel pride in being Indigenous.
That growing pride is turning into the confidence to speak up about the ideas that are important to them. Paquette says the consequence is a lot of adults are going to have their ideas and preconceptions challenged.
“We are going to be challenged with things that go on in the environment,” Paquette says. “We are going to be challenged on colonial attitudes. And that’s a good thing. It’s good to be challenged by our youth.”
Paquette asks everyone to practice humility and bravery, and to listen to the honesty of Indigenous Youth; to acknowledge them for having the courage to speak out.
Body Positivity in Teens and Children
In her LifeSpeak video, Educating children and teens about body positivity, Inspirational Speaker Talli Osbourne says we all play a role in changing the standards of beauty and teaching children to love themselves. She shares a personal anecdote that illustrates this point.
“More times than not, when kids look at me or shout things at me like, ‘look mom she’s got no hands, why is she so little?’ Or, she’s got pink hair,’” Osbourne says, “the mom or dad say, ‘stop it don’t be rude.’ They cover their face and put them in a sweater. I don’t know, they get weird, they get awkward. Even when I say, ‘it’s okay does she or he have a question?’ The mom or dad says ‘no, no, no it’s okay I’m so sorry.’
“And I can’t stand this because those children aren’t being taught a thing. Actually, they’re being taught that differences are a negative thing. But in fact, it’s the complete opposite.”
Osbourne says it’s our job to teach kids that we are all different and that our differences make the world beautiful. According to her, children start reporting body dissatisfaction between the ages of 6 and 9. Of course, that increases into middle school and high school, and can lead to depression, eating disorders, substance use disorder and low self-esteem.
Osbourne says we need to teach children that differences are good and it’s better to ask questions than to assume. By doing so, we encourage children to be curious, to recognize inner and outer beauty and to practice self-love.
Kids model adult behavior, Osbourne reminds us, so we need to show them that we love what makes us unique.
Managing racial bias
In her LifeSpeak video, Managing racial bias in work and life, Diversity and Inclusion Expert Renee Bazile-Jones says it’s important to understand that bias is part of everyone’s daily life.
She compares overcoming bias to following a 12-step program: step one is acknowledging that bias exists without entrenching ourselves in guilt or blame for having a bias. As Bazile-Jones explains, bias is common—it’s part of the way the human brain is wired. Everyone has it, and we need facts to disprove it.
We also have to be cognizant of when our bias is operating. Bazile-Jones offers one red flag: the phrase “They are.” The problem with bias is it lumps people into one big group, and that’s exactly what the phrase “They are” signifies. Instead, she says we need to treat people as individuals.
In her video, Building an inclusive workplace, Bazile-Jones shares her platinum rule—an upgraded version of the golden rule:
“Many of us are familiar with the golden rule,” Bazile Jones says, “’Treat other people the way that we wish to be treated.’ But I’m going to invite you to upgrade to platinum: ‘Treat other people the way that they wish to be treated.’ And the reason for that is to acknowledge that everybody that we deal with is not us.”
Want to learn more?
The LifeSpeak platform provides organizations with accessible, micro-learning education that can help reduce stigma around mental health and address critical topics like diversity and inclusion, relationships, anxiety, depression, family caregiving and more. To learn more, book a demo today.