Brent P., USAA Employee, wearing one of his bright and coloful suits
Transitioning to work from home (WFH) wasn’t easy for everyone. This was the case for one of USAA’s well-recognized and joyful employees.
Before a significant part of our workforce transitioned to WFH, USAA Employee, Brent P., was well known in the Phoenix office for his bright, colorful suits – always a source of happiness for employees who crossed his path. Among his collection are suits in white, purple, red, gold and even American-flag print.
This time last year, nearly all 36,000 employees moved to WFH. Brent says as someone who gets much of his energy from interacting with others, the lack of human connection was hard on him.
“When the pandemic hit, I didn’t have a workspace that was good for my work-life balance, I couldn’t sleep right, and that was also the one-year anniversary of losing one of my best friends to cancer,” says Brent. “I hadn’t dealt with it really well, and the pandemic made it worse.”
Brent decided to work on his mental health, so he used USAA’s short-term disability benefit to get help for his anxiety and depression.
“I stopped wearing suits, I didn’t see the point, so I took some time off to work on my mental health and get in a better headspace.”
After going to therapy – and even continuing it now that he’s back at work – he says he’s in a much better place. Brent even started a new role as a facilitator that brings him a joy reminiscent of when were back in the office.
“I’m suiting up every day again, enjoying coming to work and being my authentic self,” says Brent. “I do standup comedy outside of work, so I am able to do voice changes and change into characters to get employees engaged.”
Brent was encouraged by a USAA manager to go back to school, and he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in film production. He makes videos aimed at breaking the negative stigma associated with anxiety and depression. He even created his own feed on internal channels for employees to share wellness tips and resources.
“It’s an open, safe place to be vulnerable and share your story and see that others are going through the same thing,” says Brent. “It’s easy to think you’re all alone or nobody understands what you’re going through, when in reality a lot of people can relate, but they suffer in silence.”
Brent says a lot of employees have reached out to him as an advocate for mental health.
“Taking that first step is hard, and people need someone they can trust or really talk to,” says Brent. “If I can help one person, then it would all be worth it.”