This is the Masawa Minute – mental wellness, social impact, and impact investing snippets from what we’ve read the last two weeks + where you can get active.
Today’s Masawa Minute features not one but two articles written by our very own team members. Those ideas dictated the topics we looked into this week – we’ve thought about how our mental health is shaped by and reflected in the regular activities we engage in, like eating, working, or engaging with social media, as well as how we continue to lead our daily lives in the shadow of a global disaster – the climate crisis.
The goal of underlining the connection between all those seemingly unrelated parts of our lives and mental health isn’t to create more pressure (we know all of us have been feeling more than enough of that lately). Rather, it’s meant to emphasize how everything, including what we ate for lunch, ties into something bigger and how many ways there are to have an impact – in this case, on our mental health, but it also applies to any other system.
This Friday (October 30th) at 8-9.30 am PST, Masawa’s Founder & Managing Partner Joshua Haynes is appearing on a panel as part of BMW’s Responsible Leaders Forum. The discussion is focused on increasing mental health funding, so topics like philanthropy, investing, innovation, and, of course, mental health will be covered. Joshua will be speaking alongside luminaries like Isabelle Hau (Imaginable Futures), Zak Williams (PYM Health + Robin Williams’ son), Barbara Ricci (Mindful Philanthropy), and Aida Murad (AM Creatives). If you’re interested, reply to this email, and we might be able to secure you a spot!
The event offered by the UCL Institute for Global Prosperity and supported by Goodsted and The Impact Founders takes place on November 10th. It’s meant for anyone interested in social entrepreneurship and excited to get together and co-create innovative solutions to social and environmental problems with other participants.
The program will start with four speakers, who will share their stories and present the challenges which the participants will later tackle in groups. If you like the solution you come up with, you’ll get the support to make it happen, but it can also simply offer a boost of energy and creativity we all need right now.
With social media becoming an even more significant part of our lives as we spend more time in isolation, it’s necessary to understand the risks it can pose to our mental health. Even if you feel like you know them well, it can be difficult to know when we really need a social media detox and how to become less dependent on the daily hit of content.
All these questions will be covered in a webinar happening tomorrow, October 29th, 11 am EST, led by an assistant professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School Lisa W. Coyne. She’ll teach us how to set the ground rules for our digital consumption and lessen unhealthy attachment.
What we’re reading…
How often do you consider how what you eat will affect your body? What about your mental wellbeing? Numerous studies have found a direct connection between our gut and our brain – it specifically relates to the risk of depression.
While it’s currently unclear what exact chemical mechanisms are at play here, one chemical that consistently comes up in the conversation is serotonin, something you may have heard of as the happy hormone. 95% of the serotonin in our bodies is produced in the gastrointestinal tract. See the connection?
So what food should you prioritize for the best chance of reducing the risk of depressive symptoms and maintaining a healthy gut? Read the full article written by Masawa’s Investment Partner Najmeh Habili to find out!
Most of us already know that immediate action and deep, structural change is needed to tackle the challenge. But how equipped are we to do it? And how is the process affecting our mental health?
Climate anxiety aside (we’ll come back to that later), climate change is affecting our mental health through stress and PTSD as a consequence of occurring natural disasters. It also amplifies the harsh effects of increased inequality, displacement, food scarcity, loss of employment, and break-down of the community ties.
The best chance to mitigate the effects and tackle climate change is to raise awareness and understand the deep-seated connections between those issues. A way to achieve it while avoiding being consumed by fear or anxiety is to inspire people to appraise their potential to cope and act positively and communicate hopeful messages and practical solutions. We hope that the demand for change becomes impossible to ignore very soon, and we can see a global and interdisciplinary action being taken.
While you may not be thrilled about all of your co-workers and may even enjoy the chance to only see them on Zoom these days, workplace relationships are essential to your mental health. A recent Harvard study discovered that altered or severed workplace relationships are at least partly to blame for our collective mental health deteriorating during the pandemic.
And that’s experienced not only by those that work from home. Some people that continue to be physically present at their worksite have reported that altered shifts, protective measures, added stress have interfered with the connection they felt to their co-workers.
However, there is good news too. 47% of the survey respondents have noted that their management has become more compassionate, and 39% said that their co-workers have become more helpful and supportive.
It’s intuitive to place the biggest focus on making sure that everyone can do their work with this sudden change in the work environment – seeing whether the computers are working, the task flow is not disrupted, work schedules are fair. But it’s equally important to make sure that employee connectedness doesn’t suffer because it’s as big a part of the team’s success as all of the above.
Which day of 2020 was the saddest so far? Twitter has an answer to that – according to the Computational Story Lab of the University of Vermont, it was May 31st. And not only in 2020, but the saddest day the lab has registered in 13 years.
This kind of data is the courtesy of Hedonometer, an invention that has been analyzing millions of tweets daily for over a decade. The Hedometer – there’s an ever-expanding field of researchers working on using social media to get insights into our mental health. They do so by analyzing our tweets and posts’ linguistic subtleties that reveal our moods, our characters, to what extent we are avoiding things, and how connected we are to other people.
Predictably, all the recent reports have been rather grim – the levels of sadness, anxiety, depression recorded were significantly higher than those in 2019. Of course, the algorithms are continuously evolving as language, and the context behind it changes quickly, also it’s impossible to make general conclusions from a sample of Twitter users. Nevertheless, the research provides valuable insight into what emotions dominate our online lives and what that means for our mental wellbeing.
Sadly, the world of mental wellness remains predominantly white and various groups of people are often excluded from receiving the support they need. Historically people of color have been forced to build their own ecosystems of care in their communities as they’ve been continuously pushed out of the mainstream spaces. This trend is still here today – people have taken it into their own hands to provide mental health support to their communities.
People of color experience disproportionate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in their daily lives, all while struggling with the systematic oppression of their identities. The article highlights the wonderful platforms and organizations run by people from marginalized communities dedicated to coping with stress, culturally relevant practices for healing, working to integrate healing justice into the social justice movement as well as in the field of mental health.
It’s time to recognize the significance of these resources and make a place for them in the mainstream world of mental health. Access to these services is a question of human rights. As more and more people rely on them to get by in these difficult times, let’s hope we won’t have to wait too long.
A number of us on the Masawa team have just finished an 11-week CU*Money course around our personal psychological relationships with money — a fascinating self deep dive on why, how, and what we think and feel about money and how that hinders or aids us along our journey towards achieving purpose. We highly suggest that everyone take the course (registration is open!).
Masawa is now more resolute in the principle that money is but an important vehicle for achieving more and more lasting social impact.
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