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Wellness Is Worth It

Why Mental Health Matters At Work

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Rob Perez is a biopharmaceutical operating executive with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. He currently serves as an Operating Partner at General Atlantic, a global growth equity firm, providing strategic support and advice to the firm’s life sciences investment team and portfolio companies. Rob was President and CEO of Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Inc. before its sale to Merck in 2015. Before joining Cubist in 2003, he served as Vice President of Biogen, Inc.’s CNS Business Unit.

Rob is the Founder and Chairman of Life Science Cares, an organization providing human and financial capital from the life sciences industry to the best non-profits working to alleviate the impact of poverty in the US. Life Science Cares now operates in Boston, San Diego, Philadelphia and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Additionally, Rob is the co-founder of Biopharma Leaders of Color (BLOC), a community of leaders united to advance the success and access of under-represented people of color throughout the life sciences industry.

Rob also serves on the Board of Trustees of The Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

In 2022, Rob was selected by STAT News as one of 46 inaugural members of its’ STATUS List, which was described as “the most definitive and consequential accounting of leaders in health, medicine and science”.

We are honored to have Rob contribute to our blog. This is the second installment of a two-part series exploring the energy it takes to be different in a work setting and how to maintain your authentic self, while also working hard, consciously and unconsciously, to fit in. You can read his first entry here.

I can speak from firsthand experience there are times when it can be overwhelming to try and consistently be the person others expect you to be, all the while disguising the exhaustion that it takes to perform the daily charade of adapting your authentic self to try and fit in.

Thanks to an evolving journey of therapy and mental health resources (especially meditation), mental wellness is currently within reach for me, but I admit my thoughts have sometimes spun out of control, and led me to some very dark and scary places. The challenge of navigating a professional and personal world where the person most people think they know is a character that I have to summon significant energy to perform, each and every day, has taken a toll on my mental health that I am still working to understand.

This admission is submitted here not to enlist your sympathy, but to help you better understand what the only woman in your boardroom, or the one person of color in your department, or the LGBTQ person on your team, may be going through, even if they appear happy, and you have no perception of their internal struggle. I also hope it will allow those who are dealing with similarly destructive thoughts like I have experienced, to confidently and without shame, gain strength in knowing you are not alone, and also to garner the courage to seek the help that may be needed to understand this internal conflict.

I still believe in the words I wrote several years ago, that difference is “ the atom upon which virtually every achievement is built, and maintain that we should celebrate those who “ embrace difference in their pursuit of greatness, …and are never comfortable with the security of “same”…

I just wish I had ended with a caution that it is critical that we understand and are aware of the toll that difference can take on our mental well-being in today’s complex world. I sincerely hope all who view themselves as different will realize without shame or selfish pride, that our operating system may need some assistance in order to sustain the energy required to achieve the very real benefits that difference can provide.

We are just a couple of months away from Mental Health Awareness month in May, but if you are struggling with thoughts or feelings you don’t understand, or feel like you are experiencing anxiety, depression, or a loss of control, you are not alone. There are resources that can REALLY help.

Talk to family. Talk to friends. Talk to a professional. Take the risk…Trust me, wellness is worth it.

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