Mental health at work: Employees share how they navigated major life events

Two women talking on couch


Facebook Twitter Linkedin Copy link post URL copied
7 min read

This story is part of a series recognizing Mental Health Awareness Month and how RingCentral supports its employees’ mental health and well-being.

Major life-changing events are one of the leading causes of depression and mental health challenges that people experience. According to research in Clinical Science Insights, 70% of people’s first depressive episodes and 40% of recurrent depressive episodes are preceded by one of these highly stressful occurrences.

These major life events can run the gamut, from the death of a loved one to the birth of a child. Even a happy milestone can cause added stress and strain in one’s life if it creates significant change.

For many, juggling work in the middle of a significant life-changing event can add to their stress level and lead to an increased rate of depression. RingCentral has found creative ways to support its employees during these critical moments and support their team’s work-life balance, and a few employees shared their experiences with us.

Paula changed her approach to work during a family crisis

Paula Ridley, a product manager at RingCentral, learned the importance of work-life balance when her 17-year-old daughter attempted suicide.

A few years ago, Paula worked for a company that made it challenging to spend time with her family. She often left for work before her kids were awake and came home just as they were going to bed.

Her company demanded everything of her, and even in the few moments when she was at home with her family, she often had one eye on her laptop to answer work emails. It wasn’t until her daughter went through a significant crisis that she realized something had to change.

“I received a call from my daughter’s boyfriend, and he said she was on the bathroom floor. She won’t come out, and he told me you have to come to get her,” Paula says. “When I arrived, I broke into the bathroom.”

Paula left work early that day to help her daughter, but her colleagues weren’t supportive of her decision. They allowed her to leave the office, but they wouldn’t help pick up her workload.

Paula knew she had to find help for her daughter, but she also didn’t want to lose her job. Eventually, she decided to drop her daughter off at a rehabilitation facility and go back to work.

“I told the people at the center that I didn’t want her on pills. I wanted them to get to the heart of the problem and figure out what’s going on,” Paula describes. “But at the same time, I was trying to go back to work.”

Paula realized that her desire to go back to the office had hindered her ability to find her daughter the best rehabilitation facility for her depression.

“I worked so much I didn’t see what she was going through. Inside, she was hurting so much,” Paula says.

I worked so much I didn’t see what she was going through.

At that moment, Paula knew her colleagues were annoyed she was leaving the office, but her priorities had changed.

Finding work-life balance with RingCentral

Shortly after that, Paula left her job. With RingCentral, she discovered a company that respects her need to have a life outside of work.

Today she finishes work by 6 p.m., has dinner with her family, and occasionally has time to drive her daughter to school.

Her daughter received the mental health support she needed and is now working to rebuild her relationship with her mother. Paula, meanwhile, is happy that her current job allows her to take care of her family.

“I realized that the last job wasn’t the job for my family,” Paula says. “I could have lost my daughter, and what does my job mean then?”

I realized that the last job wasn’t the job for my family.

At RingCentral, Paula works remotely. She can connect with her colleagues through RingCentral’s cloud communication tools and internal wellness support groups, and they share stories about the challenges of balancing work and family life.

Carolyn learned to balance work and caregiving, and to ask for help

After having her first baby, Carolyn Horowitz, a senior training specialist at RingCentral, discovered it was more difficult than expected to transition back to work.

She had helped build her team from the ground up. She was used to leading projects and being involved in every aspect of her work. But after 16 weeks of maternity leave, she found that she wasn’t sure where she fit anymore.

“The transition was hard for me. When I came back after being out for 16 weeks, people had stepped up or moved on. There had been some promotions. We’d put in new programs and hired new people.

Priorities had shifted, and I needed to give myself time to see where I fit in this new reality. I wondered what my place was on this team,” she describes.

The situation was jarring for Carolyn, who liked being independent and in control. She just wanted to pick back up where she left off without having to ask for too much help.

Then, as she was in the middle of juggling the transition back to work and life with her new baby, the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything again. The situation was stressful for Carolyn.

“My son wasn’t even one yet. There were so many ups and downs as a new parent, dealing with a kid, with eating and sleeping, and it felt like we were just getting the swing of things, and then a pandemic hit,” she says.


How Carolyn looks to RingCentral for support

Eventually, Carolyn discovered that she could turn to RingCentral’s many support groups for help navigating these new waters.

During the height of the pandemic, RingCentral’s human resources and wellness team provided support by organizing lectures about wellness that focused on work-life balance and how to avoid burnout while working from home.

She began connecting with other mothers at RingCentral to hear about their experiences.

“We have the SaaSy women support group and employee resources groups where new moms can ask each other questions. Anyone who is a mom can join,” Carolyn says. “It’s a space for people to connect with other moms and share resources, and we share photos of our kids.”

The groups hold meetings on RingCentral apps, and Carolyn has found that they made balancing work and caregiving easier by making her feel less alone.

Now she’s pregnant again and planning to go on maternity leave in a few months, and she’s looking forward to seeking out RingCentral’s support groups more often.

“It makes me feel better that those groups are there when I get back, so if I’m having a rough day, I can ask for advice about taking time off for a doctor’s appointment or how to get reinvolved with a project. I know I can set up a meeting with someone and ask for advice,” Carolyn says.

“I used to keep things to my chest, but if people don’t know what’s going on, then they can’t help. At RingCentral, I’ve learned to be more open,” she added.

Mike leaned on his colleagues during tumultuous times

During the first weeks of the pandemic, Mike Pugh’s mother died, his father had a stroke, and his daughter gave birth to his first grandchild. All of this happened at once, just as he was starting to work remotely in his role as a marketing professional for RingCentral.

“The full circle of life was in effect. My first parent died, my first granddaughter was born, and my remaining parent went from being independent to needing care,” Mike says.

His three grown children, each in their mid- to late-20s, also moved in and out of Mike’s house during the pandemic.

The situation was stressful, and Mike needed to show up for his family and himself.

He wanted time to mourn his mother, adjust to the new reality of the pandemic, support his daughter as she navigated motherhood for the first time, and find appropriate care for his father.

For many, it would not have been easy to hold down a job under these circumstances. Many people would also find it easy to fall into a depression or get overwhelmed.

According to The Family Caregiver Alliance, around 39% of caregivers leave their jobs to have more time to care for a loved one. Between 40% and 70% of caregivers suffer from depression or anxiety.

If it weren’t for the fact that RingCentral was so supportive, Mike isn’t sure he would have been able to keep working during such an intense moment.

man on video call with teammates “The fact that RingCentral let me work from home and gave me flexibility allowed me to get through this period,” Mike says. “All of this stuff was happening, and I didn’t have to choose between that and my career. It was crazy, and I was so blessed to be able to keep my job while also being there for my family.”

Mike created RingCentral’s Generations support group

One of the ways that Mike pulled through was by looking to his friends and colleagues for support.

Within RingCentral, he launched a support group called Generations, where people who are simultaneously caring for elderly parents, children, and grandchildren can connect and support one another.

They have a chat group where they post pictures, tell stories, ask questions and share resources. Sometimes they also host virtual meetups.

“Most of us are in the peak of our careers, peak earning years. We have kids who aren’t as independent as we were at their age because of the economic problems of the past decade. We have parents living longer,” Mike explains. “It was nice to know that I wasn’t alone and that I could share stories with people who had been there and done that.”

Mike likes to think of life as an extensive network of people helping each other get through these challenging times. At RingCentral, he’s found a community of people to support him through it all.

Supporting employees during major life events pays dividends

Taking care of your employees and supporting them during significant life events reduces employee turnover and bolsters your business.

Research from the University of Minnesota discovered that a work environment that allows employees to change their work environment according to their needs reduces turnover by minimizing the conflicts between home life and work.

RingCentral has proven that it’s possible to support your employees and also run a successful business. Interested in working with RingCentral? Explore RingCentral’s career page, and discover more about RingCentral here. 

Read more on how RingCentral supports the mental health and well-being of all employees:

Neurodiversity and mental health at work: RingCentral’s employees share their stories

Your guide to checking in on your colleagues after a traumatic event

Why women’s mental health is in crisis

Originally published May 18, 2021, updated Aug 22, 2021

Up next

Women suffer from mental health issues at almost 3x the rate of men

Employee experience

Why women’s mental health is in crisis

This story is part of a series recognizing Mental Health Awareness Month and how RingCentral supports its employees’ mental health and well-being. As of May 2021, records show that COVID-19 has caused the deaths of 3.4 million people since the first known case in 2019. And while it does not directly infect the mind, the ...


Facebook Twitter Linkedin Copy link post URL copied

Related content