C-Suite Profile - Evin Schwartz
CEO of Belouga Ventures, Inc.
Why do you value mental health? What is your motivation to help others?
Mental health is at the core of our overall wellness. I have always prioritized a healthy lifestyle from diet to exercise, but not until my adult years did I realize how much my overall physical health is reliant on my mental health. I know when I am at my best, and it always aligns with a positive outlook and clear mind. I also believe it’s very easy to lose track of one’s own mental health with a constant go-go-go lifestyle, which is why I consciously make an effort to address a positive mental health lifestyle. I will always prioritize mental health awareness and positive practices as I have had many people in my life battle mental health challenges over the years. I have seen how these challenges can weigh a person down, but also how a supportive network and proper attention can make all the difference. Everyone deserves this.
Why is it important for business executives to champion mental health regardless of their personal experience with stress, trauma, or disorder?
Business executives are often looked at as untouchable. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. At the end of the day, an executive should prioritize all members of their team, both in-and-out of the office, and put their needs above your own. An executive should also have the mindset of working for every one of those employees in his or her company, not vice-versa. The executive is not only responsible for their employee’s livelihood, but that of their employee’s loved ones. There’s a lot of pressure that comes with that. When an executive’s office door closes it becomes an extremely lonely place. This is why business executives need to create a complete open-door policy, and not from the traditional sense. It sounds like a buzz term and may even get talked about in meetings, but it rarely connects to mental health and building support networks for all members of an organization. From a top-down and bottom-up perspective, every member of an organization deserves to have a safe environment to share their thoughts, feelings, and practices.
What physical or emotional traumas, genetic predispositions, or life events have you experienced that you feel had an impact on your/a loved one’s ability to feel the healthiest you/they can feel from a mental health standpoint?
I’ve been a startup executive for almost 15 years and describe it as a never-ending rollercoaster of ups and downs. I know at the end of the day this is exactly what I signed up for, but it can be easy to forget. The down experiences always end, but they can create internal turmoil if not addressed head-on. This was the case during 2020 when education and online learning took center stage, but the majority of spending throughout the industry stopped. This left me scrambling for answers, especially relating to time management and overall positive mental health practices, with the constant question “How am I going to keep this company running?”. This created many sleepless nights and an overall feeling of constant frustration. Thankfully, this was an opportunity to turn to my team, family, and friends for guidance, which helped me navigate the situation.
How did that experience that you’ve gone through change the way you view mental health?
I don’t know if it changed my views as I have always tried to keep an even keel attitude (so much so that I said this was my superpower at a recent conference…cue the laughter), but it made me realize that work does not define the person who I am. My thought process more than ever before is geared at recognizing my self-growth, both personally and professionally, and being 100% comfortable in the journey.
Why did you decide to share your story (whether previously or on this site for the first time)? Who were/are you hoping to help and how?
I don’t think my story is different than what most people feel or experience. However, I know sharing and talking about mental health helps everyone. This is the heart of the entire #SameHere movement. Mental health is a 5 in 5 topic. It shouldn’t be a comparison, the same way you wouldn’t compare whose leg is more broken or whose cut got more stitches, but rather a recognition that everyone deals with their challenges. We all benefit by embracing this and being there for one another.
What methods or practices helped you get/feel better?
For me, disconnecting is the key. This means getting away from a screen and being mindful of my surroundings. Year-round (yes, even in the winter which I spend in Toronto!), I make a daily effort to get outside for at least an hour with absolutely no distractions except the moment itself.