By Lauren Sallata, CMO, Panasonic Corporation or North America
A global pandemic, social injustice, civil unrest, economic inequality and instability, hurricanes and wildfires. Add these to life’s usual pressures and it is easy to see why mental health is on our collective minds.
When we first launched our #whatmovesus brand campaign with Team Panasonic at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year, we never imagined that mental health would take centerstage. Like so many other companies, COVID-19 made the well-being of our employees and their families our main focus. As a century-old company, Panasonic leaned into our seven business principles – core values like ‘adaptability,’ ‘gratitude’ and ‘contribution to society’ – to navigate the pandemic and to be a source of support for our 270,000 employees worldwide, our customers, partners and communities.
The ideals of ‘community’ and ‘giving back’ resonated with our Team Panasonic ambassadors, with our team captain, and Olympic legend Michael Phelps uniquely suited to drive the conversation.
A legend in the pool with 28 Olympic medals – 23 of them gold, Phelps has gained comparable recognition for teaching us all “it’s OK, not to be OK.” Phelps has publicly voiced his experience dealing with ups and downs as well as the benefits of slowing down, evaluating what is important, and being purposeful.
At this year’s AW2020, I sit down with Phelps for a candid discussion on mental health and coping during these challenging times.
Teaming Up For a Purpose
This summer, Panasonic teamed up with Phelps and his Foundation, to provide social-emotional curricula to children throughout the U.S. and teach them the importance of emotional health at an early age. Building basic emotional skills for children facing feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression during these times has been just a cornerstone of our work together.
Also part of our broader brand campaign, over the past few months we have worked with the other Team Panasonic athletes to support students, families and inspire Panasonic employees around the world.
Five-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky has been helping to increase equity in education, providing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) resources to young women and children in need. With schools coping with COVID-19, introducing Ledecky’s Dive into STEM Education, powered by Panasonic, to youth with virtual courses was critical to providing academic enrichment and ensuring children had access to a more equitable socio-economic future. We couldn’t be more thrilled to help her scale this initiative given our longtime commitment to equality in education.
And, with strict stay-at-home orders in place earlier in quarantine, Sakura Kokumai, led our employees and the community in discovering power and balance through karate. A firm believer in never giving up, Sakura who overcame challenges to qualify for the Olympics and compete for the first time, knows the importance of balance is synonymous with compassion and empathy.
Award-winning blind Paralympian long jump medalist, Lex Gillette, who is no stranger to preserving through life’s obstacles, has been teaching the world ‘there is no need for sight when you have a vision.’ Through motivational speeches to our employees, Gillette provides inspiration ultimately, teaching people to see.
What Moves Us: Passion & Purpose
Each member of Team Panasonic, whether an Olympian or an employee working on sustainable solutions or sewing facial coverings for first responders in their spare time, shares a sense of passion and purpose. The #whatmovesus campaign brought those forces to bear in response to COVID-19 under Phelps’ leadership, even though he’s been quite busy.
Phelps recently executive produced and starred in the HBO documentary “The Weight of Gold,” spotlighting mental health challenges Olympic athletes sometimes face.
“We all have something special to offer. It’s what moves all of us,” Phelps mentioned to me during a recent conversation. “The more we can all work together, the further we will go.”
We’re living in uncertain times, but if we all take it one day at a time, live in our purpose, and lean into community, the more we can overcome.
To hear more of my discussion about mental health with Michael Phelps, please join us on Wednesday, October 7 at 12:00 pm EDT on AWStudios Channel.
If you or someone you know needs mental health support, please visit:
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- Crisis Text Line
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline