Google executive who fights with stress and anxiety and anxiety

When leaders of public business and other prominent organizations begin speaking freely about their experiences with anxiety, stress and anxiety, and other psychological health obstacles, the veil of pity that hides a number of these discussions at work begins to raise.  

It can start with an executive merely being open with their groups about their individual obstacles. Or it can include more official storytelling. Not just does storytelling recover, it unlocks for real modification. 

Through my podcast, I satisfied Newton Cheng who functions as Director of Health and Performance at Google (he is likewise a world champ powerlifter). Cheng and I had a frank and motivating discussion, and I asked him who motivated him to be public about taking psychological health leave in 2021. Cheng discussed he discovered a good example in his previous Google coworker Daryll Henrich.

“He was a VP and very respected leader in our overall IT organization,” Cheng discussed on the podcast. “And I first heard his story in a management training aimed at managers. Not only had [Henrich] shared his story with the entire company, but Google’s L&D team took his story and embedded it into a key manager training course. The story sat in my memory for 10 years before I experienced struggles that were similar, and it helped me feel less alone when I finally needed it.”

I located Henrich, curious about the origin of a story that had actually plainly affected lots of. Henrich, a previous VP of engineering at Google, doesn’t believe his journey to psychological health at work required to be as difficult as he made it. But at the time, he had couple of good example.

When Henrich initially started experiencing stress and anxiety and anxiety in 2006, he felt alone. “There was no one in the industry I could look to and say, ‘Oh, there’s an example of someone who was able to get through or integrate that experience and thrive anyway.’” 

His healing procedure was sluggish. “I didn’t take any medication. And I think now in retrospection, it led me to a a lot longer slog through healing. But I persisted. I asked my therapist at one point, When am I, quote, unquote, ‘better?’ This doesn’t seem like, Oh, I overcame a cold. 

“It got to the point where it was so long and drawn out that I lost my baseline, and I didn’t remember what normal even felt like. The therapist said, ‘It begins to get better as it becomes something that happened to you rather than something that is happening to you. But it is always going to be with you.’ And he said that as I begin to integrate the experience into my ongoing life, that’s when I get better.”

It took Henrich years to feel comfy sufficient to open about his stress and anxiety and anxiety. Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, he never ever anticipated to wind up on the management track at Google. But he was promoted rapidly, and by his late twenties, was handling a personnel of 45. Around that time, he likewise began observing troubling physical signs and state of mind shifts that preoccupied him.

These were indications of stress and anxiety, however Henrich disregarded them up until “it got so bad that obsessive thoughts about my own well being led to a severe hypochondria, which led to panic disorder and a night in the hospital.” After this, he lastly began treatment and was identified with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder. Henrich calls 2006-2008 the worst duration of his life, where he continuously stressed whatever he’d constructed at Google was at danger. 

“I worried I’d gone from up-and-coming rockstar to what I viewed as weak,” Henrich states. His psychological health battle gave fear and pity. “Everyone I admired appeared invincible. I put other Google executives on pedestals. I seemed like I did not have any person to speak with.

“The track that I was on that was not sustainable and being disrupted by this experience was a taste of modest pie. But it required me to attend to the life practices and work practices  that were totally unsustainable and truly damaging me.

In retrospection, Henrich is grateful for the experience. And as he started to share his story, he understood that he’s ended up being a good example he wanted he had.  

It was just when among his direct reports concerned him in 2009 to request a psychological health leave that Henrich was relocated to speak openly about his stress and anxiety and anxiety. He began sharing his story throughout Google, and included his psychological health journey in management training courses he was significantly asked to offer. 

“In addition to my job, which was running a big chunk of internal systems at Google, I made that my side hustle, internally speaking out about this or whether it was just talking to people who got sent my way as that network grew. And ultimately, teaching leadership classes. The first or second slide of every leadership class I ever taught was about taking care of yourself. It’s the ‘put on your mask before helping someone else kind of thing’. And so literally, any public speaking that I ever did internally to Google included this.”

Henrich’s story even went viral on the Google Intranet. “People would tell me it was brave, and it felt like it should have gone all wrong for my career. Sharing my story didn’t destroy my career at all, and actually led to a lot of upside for my career.” 

Henrich is what Kelly Greenwood, CEO of the labor force psychological health non earnings Mind Share Partners, calls a leader ally. A leader ally’s story is a genuine, susceptible, and helpful message that consists of an individual experience with psychological health, which can vary from high tension to burnout to sorrow to a diagnosable condition. It can be previous or present, a one-time episode, or a continuous difficulty, and it might or might not have actually impacted work.

As we can see with Henrich, leader allies assist stabilize psychological health obstacles at work, and decrease the preconception. They signal that experiencing psychological health obstacles is okay, and essential, they design psychologically healthy habits. 

Henrich credits his healing from mental disorder with his improvement as a leader who ultimately constructed a group of thousands. He established compassion as a manager. “Good human values as a leader creates a safe and compassionate place where people want to work,” he states.


News and digital media editor, writer, and communications specialist. Passionate about social justice, equity, and wellness. Covering the news, viewing it differently.

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