It’s Not Just What You Do, but WHERE You Work that Determines Success

By Mike Jacquart

I thought one of the best comments Marina London made during the writing of my book, Climbing out of Darkness: A Personal Journey into Mental Wellness, pertained to her experiences seeing troubled employees as a licensed mental health professional for major hospital and corporate clients.

“Nine times out of ten, their unhappiness was due to a very poor fit between the employee’s personality and the work environment,” wrote London. “I found myself repeatedly recommending those employees look for a more suitable position.”
“Bingo!” I thought. Whether one wants to call it corporate culture, work environment, work lifestyle, or my term, “fit,” it’s not just what you do for a living, but also where you work that can play a strong role in success. I have to believe that when one suffers from a mental health challenge, this “fit” becomes even more crucial.

This statement stems from personal experience, having lost a number of jobs during my 35-year career as a reporter, writer, and editor. I’m convinced that a poor fit between my personality and a fast-paced work environment-which my depression and anxiety issues exacerbated-played a significant role in my termination. Others would agree.

“To be hyper focused and engaged all the time in a company culture, while struggling with depression is debilitating work,” wrote licensed mental health professional Maureen Hotchner in Climbing out of Darkness.
Indeed, it is. Every workplace has interruptions, but they seemed to be endless at one particular company, a firm that was actually a pleasant place to work. Everyone seemed so happy and cheerful. The problem was it was a little too exuberant for me. Seemingly multitudes of coworkers would stop by our cubicle area each day. Our cubicles were in close proximity, and since I had concentration issues, the continual disturbances were difficult to cope with. Many times, I felt like saying to one of my colleagues,
“Don’t you have any work to do? You can have some of mine!” But no one else felt they were being too
talkative, so I just forced a smile instead.

As Marina wrote, “when you are depressed, everything is an effort. That includes socializing.” (As I learned years later, social isolation is a trait of depressive disorder.) Imagine yourself in a race, day in, day out, and you are continually struggling to keep up. That’s what depression is like. You feel like you’re running in place, while everyone else is sprinting past you.

There were some slower, less stressful and quieter work environments at this firm, but when I talked to HR about working elsewhere, I was told the company was not in the habit of providing “lateral transfers.” In other words, the new job had to be a promotion, not one that involved similar work.

“Nobody talks to young people about the lifestyle that accompanies a particular job,” London wrote. Someone should. While there were aspects of my job that were a good fit, such as writing and reporting, (which I liked and was good at,) there were other problems, like excessive chatter and a fast pace that often worsened my anxiety issues and were not good for my wellbeing.

Finally, several years after being let go by this employer, I accepted a position at a company that fit like a well-tailored suit. The pace was less hectic, and coworkers were less talkative, even considerate. It wasn’t unusual for a colleague to ask me, “Am I being too loud for you, Mike?” Wow! I was impressed. I worked there for 14 years, much longer than any other job I ever had.

I’m not suggesting that a job has to be perfect, because no position is. I am saying that when it comes to selecting a work environment, the more you know who you are, the better choices you can make. This is an important consideration in a rapidly changing world. And it is ESPECIALLY crucial when you have mental health challenges.

Mental health for men is a new series of blog posts and podcasts developed and distributed by Fresh Hope for Mental Health Portions are excerpted from Mike’s book, “Climbing out of Darkness: A Personal Journey into Mental Wellness.” For more information, contact Mike at

Meet our National Ambassador, Will Zipf!

We are thrilled to announce that William Zipf (Will) has begun serving as a volunteer here at Fresh Hope for Mental Health as a National Ambassador for the US! Will’s extensive experience in the energy industry is matched only by his passion for mental
health advocacy, having seen firsthand the challenges that families and individuals face when dealing with mental illness.

William Zipf (Will) is a husband of 25 years and the father of two adult children. Will has worked in the energy industry for almost 30 years in a variety of roles. His current role is as an executive focused on transitioning thermal fired power plants to operate net carbon zero in a low carbon economy.

Most importantly, for this role, however, within Will’s family, mental health issues have been lifelong challenges. Will has seen first-hand how both the public at large and the Christian community misunderstand the very reality of mental health issues. Will has watched as both friends and family, both those with diagnosis and their loved ones,
have been hurt through well-meaning but misguided Christian beliefs.

Before Will found Fresh Hope, he felt called to serve and champion this community through a ministry that helped to span the gap between receiving treatment from health professionals and living life daily with a mental illness. Will found a home at Fresh Hope.

Will is honored to fill the role of National Ambassador for Fresh Hope and looks forward to serving the community by accepting the responsibility without any authority. One of the fundamental truths that God has led Will to see is that people who struggle with mental health issues don’t need another someone trying to exercise authority in their lives, they already have too many. Will takes to heart Matt 20:26-28 “ 26  It [exercising authority] shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27  and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28  even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Will’s deep commitment to serving those struggling with mental health issues makes him a perfect fit for the role of National Ambassador. In his new position, Will will support Fresh Hope’s facilitators through the Regional Ambassadors, providing support
and guidance to those working on the front lines of mental health support. Currently there are 5 volunteers serving as Regional Ambassadors within the US: Benita Fager, Dale and Martha Rose, Jason Pine, Scott Ohnmeis and Jannifer Barebo Cox. Will’s deep understanding of the challenges faced by those dealing with mental health issues, as well as his experience working in large-scale organizations, will be invaluable as he helps to build a network of support across the country.

One of the key responsibilities of Fresh Hope Ambassadors is connecting facilitatorswith each other, providing a space for best practices to be shared and mutual support to be offered. Will is eager to take on this role, using his extensive experience in
connecting people and organizations to build a thriving community of support.

As an Ambassador, Will will also be advocating for mental health in churches and other organizations, helping to raise awareness about mental health issues and promoting the importance of support groups as a tool for recovery. In addition to serving as a voice for mental health in his community, Will, and the Regional Ambassadors will also be offering direct support to facilitators as they navigate difficult conversations and situations.

Finally, Will is committed to encouraging self-care among facilitators, recognizing the importance of maintaining one’s own mental health and well-being in order to provide support to others. By offering resources and support to facilitators, Will will be helping to build a strong and resilient network of mental health advocates across the country.

We are incredibly grateful to have Will on board as a National Ambassador for Fresh Hope for Mental Health. We know that his experience, passion, and commitment to serving those in need will be an incredible asset to our organization.

Please join us in welcoming Will and wishing him all the best as he takes on this important role!