Claire Brody, Manager, Diversity & Inclusion, EMEA, at the Walt Disney Company, shares her poem written for Mental Health Awareness Week.

My Whole Self

Mental health awareness is the game
a self-deprecating American on a crusade for inclusion, 
Claire Brody, is my name.
I reign from a tiny town in Texas, United States,
went to film school in Austin, then out to LA.
I pursued many careers, just desperate to create
the acting and presenting led me to Walt Disney’s gate
...with a smile + a dream, and a big chunky briefcase
All my life,
you see,
I thought 
my sexuality 
would define my career’s 
It wasn’t until we started Disney Pride 
that I could no longer hide
this secret I was holding inside.
While my parents took years to process my truth
My Disney family was there all along,
including those of you I met 
at London’s Equality Institute.

2018 marked seven years in LA
And that May, I made my way
over to the UK.
Day by day, I was frayed 
by London’s relentless ways,
I won’t get too 
into my darkness 
at that time,
I will just say..
7 years in the city of angels 
left me on cloud nine
only to crash & burn, 
losing to London so many countless times
who knew...
would help save my own life  
in August that third day.

when I had a stomach ulcer once before,
it was something I chose to ignore,
until after I moved, 
and the relentless depression loomed,
so deep in my core.
If I wanted to survive I was forced to bring mental health 
to the fore-front of my life
and though I no longer had to choose between my career and my wife
moving countries + changing jobs created a new personal strife.

What a nightmare to come to work
only to go home and be yourself,
in silence the suffering lurks,
and in knowledge there’s wealth.

It doesn’t take more than Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
to prioritize psychological safety and the lives of our employees.

So you can bring your whole self,
we’ve been working to create,
a workplace of belonging 
that properly educates
and provides mental health first aid.

All it takes is one person to strike a thoughtful chat,
Check in with a colleague, end the stigma attached.
Mental health we all have, an evolving continuum, 
not a topic that’s deemed bad or conversation kept at minimum.

Together we’ve created this place where we all belong 
I don’t know about you but this American
thinks we should celebrate
with a Disney sing along?

Claire influences content, talent, and culture by managing the implementation of the D&I strategy in all lines of business and functions across the region. The poem is a celebration of the psychological safety she feels in her workplace, and the positive impact feeling her 'whole self' has had on her mental health and wellbeing. This poem was shared in a global Walt Disney Company webinar for Mental Health Awareness Week.