At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became immediately apparent that there was a new challenge for individuals looking to maintain their physical wellness. However, many overlooked the importance of also caring for their mental and emotional well-being. The abrupt shift in work-life balance and non-stop COVID-19 updates meant that much of society was never really turning off. For many people, the stress of work, coupled with household responsibilities and the general uncertainty of what lies ahead, has created a heightened level of anxiety and burnout.
Prior to COVID-19, Verizon Media, a leader in innovation, content and commerce, was already championing mental health for employees. At the start of the pandemic, it recognized the oncoming mental health challenges and needs of their partners, consumers and employees. To address these needs, Verizon Media set out to further destigmatize the mental health conversation at home and at work, while also providing quality content and resources.
To champion mental health, Verizon Media launched a series of programs to destigmatize the conversation, from well-being live streams with thought leaders, to a new website dedicated to wellness, to donations of advertising inventory supporting mental health non-profits and more.
In April, just weeks after most of the U.S. implemented stay-at-home orders, Verizon Media launched Yahoo Life, a website dedicated to mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. Simultaneously, Verizon Media donated $10 million in advertising inventory to support mental and public health response efforts to address COVID-19. Donation beneficiaries included Child Mind Institute; Crisis Text Line; Empower Work; Mental Health Foundation; The Trevor Project; CDC; and WHO. Acknowledging the lack of resources for these organizations, Verizon Media also provided creative services and account management to fully maximize the ad inventory.
In tandem, Verizon Media launched Reset Your Mindset -- a wellbeing live stream series featuring entertainment, sports, health, and business thought leaders speaking to wellness - mental, emotional, and physical - and how it translates at home and at work. Reset Your Mindset at Home was created in partnership with Yahoo Life to reach consumers, while Reset Your Mindset at Work was created in partnership with Fortune to reach business audiences. Through candid dialogue, viewers received tangible insight from different experts.
To promote resilience and community among young women, Verizon Media partnered with Women’s Sports Foundation to launch We Keep Playing -- a livestream hosted by Yahoo Sports and Billie Jean King. The virtual event featured candid conversations between top-tier female athletes about the challenges they faced amidst COVID-19 and how they were persevering.
To keep users well informed throughout the pandemic, Verizon Media also launched a COVID-19 Hub across the entire Yahoo ecosystem, steering consumers to accurate reporting and reputable third party information from CDC and WHO.
On the employee front, Verizon Media CEO, Guru Gowrappan extended his approach to mental health by opening dialogue across all levels and departments, addressing its impact on everyone, from working remotely to juggling work and childcare. One immediate change Guru implemented is Wellness Friday, a weekly segment during Verizon's existing Up To Speed Live, a daily live stream for employees on Twitter, where Guru is joined by a guest to discuss the different areas of mental health and wellbeing. Speakers have included Abby Wambach, Glennon Doyle, Lori Gottlieb, Deepak Chopra, Padma Lakshmi, and Cynthia Germanotta (Lady Gaga’s mother). With an employee-first approach, Guru initiated multiple initiatives -- for example, an employee meditation session with Deepak Chopra to ensure his team felt seen, heard and cared for. Guru encouraged employee conversations to normalize proactive discussions about mental health and spearheaded a partnership with HR and third party experts for employee mental health training, hosting "Cooking With Guru," an Instagram Live series used to engage employees beyond the corporate setting.
In 2020 Verizon Media launched Made Academy, a mandatory training tool for all employees going beyond the usual “stigma fighting” message, to offer education, training and information to Verizon Media’s +10K employees.
Verizon Media also offers premium access to guided meditation apps, an internal storytelling series for employees to share their experiences, free 24/7 and confidential crisis and counseling support, and emotional support for employees and families.
Verizon Media Group has earned impressive results from its most recent programs that support mental health and wellness. Here is a snapshot :
Reset Your Mindset (two-part series, live streamed): 59 original earned media placements and 71 social mentions
Reset Your Mindset (two-part series, live streamed): 7.2 million views
Successful launch of new website, Yahoo Life, dedicated to content and resources supporting mental health and wellness
Yahoo Sports and Women’s Sports Foundation #WeKeepPlaying live stream resulted in 200+ earned placements and syndications, along with 80+ social mentions
Yahoo Sports and Women’s Sports Foundation #WeKeepPlaying live stream resulted in 6 million views
COVID-19 Hub and Coronavirus Related Content: (Data Reflects Feb-July 2020)
We were able to move swiftly to elevate and make our trusted news and content easily accessible by creating a centralized destination for topics related to COVID-19. Our Coronavirus hub continues to deliver facts, stats and industry experts to help our audiences stay informed. The numbers show we are succeeding: 5 billion page views to date and over 600 million users globally accessing our Coronavirus content across Verizon Media.
For employees, Verizon Media collaborated with internal teams to develop programs, editorial, and partnerships leading to the $10M donation of ad inventory to mental health organizations. Verizon Media has also created a mental health checklist and scorecard, including indicators related to usage of benefits and programs, employee engagement evaluations across programs, and regular polling among stakeholders to ensure the company is meeting KPIs.
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