Home Podcast Making Mental Health a Priority with Melani Gordon and Jennifer Exum

Making Mental Health a Priority with Melani Gordon and Jennifer Exum

by Neal Bloom

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September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Ever since the pandemic hit, suicide rates have increased dramatically. Workplace stress and job strain is a leading cause of suicide for many people. In this week’s podcast, host Neal Bloom talks with Melani Gordon, program director at Techstars, and Jennifer Exum, president of JRE Career Consulting, on grappling with mental health issues and how to help the startup community through resources and therapy. 

Before we introduce the guests, we want to share the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255. If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, please call 1-800-273-8255.

Back to our guests — Melani is an avid supporter of providing resources and support for mental health issues. She has her own history of losing her younger brother to suicide, and wants to change the stigma of talking about mental health and going to therapy. She is very active in helping certain communities where she can, and recently joined board for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in Nevada. Jen has worked in human resources in San Diego for 15 years, and has consistently helped startups in the tech space. She pivoted her HR skills to become a career coach, and helps people talk about work challenges and find an appropriate place for them. She is constantly learning how to take care of others while also making sure she is focusing on self-care for herself. 

The pandemic hit Melani’s company Evergreen, heavily, and she was forced to reorganize her company and let people go. As she faced her own burnout, she realized she had nothing left to give, and needed support of her own. Jen was already part of Melani’s team prior to COVID-19, and was aware of the necessary changes that needed to be made. She coached people who were leaving and helped them in their career transition and with therapy. Thanks to the investment Melani made in making sure her employees had a therapist,, she was able to provide resources for those going through a hard situation. She emphasizes that leaders should take a crucial look at stigma in mental health and work to provide resources in the workplace. 

Listen in to Melani and Jen share the struggles employees go through in the office, how to create a healthy and transparent work environment that integrates mental health, and the importance for CEOS and executives to lead by example in taking care of themselves and others. Also, to hear more about Mel’s founder story, listen to our past interview of her below: https://freshbrewedtech.com/melani-gordon-co-founder-and-ceo-of-evergreen-fka-taphunter/


Their favorite local tacos:

Lola 55 in San Diego


Connect with Mel and Jen:

Melani Gordon

Jennifer Exum


Learn more about mental health resources:

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Prioritizing Your Mental Health at Work

How Businesses Can Address Mental Health In The Workplace


Thanks to our partners at Cox Business for their support in enabling us to grow the San Diego ecosystem.

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