MAKE IT OK IN THE WORKPLACE

By Lauren Kollauf on Tuesday, May 4, 2021


In this video from the Total Wellness program, Dustin D. shares his experience as an employee at Van Meter and his own mental health story.

Make It OK at Van Meter

Van Meter, based in Cedar Rapids, is a wholesale electrical supply distributor with locations across the Midwest. For the industrial-contractor based employer, safety has always been a key component workplace wellness priorities since the company was founded in 1928. However, in the past two decades, the company has started to take more holistic approach.

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“We are a business that cares about people and driving an employee-owner experience so that our people can be their best so they can help our customers be their best,” said Lura McBride, President and CEO of Van Meter. “I think about the amount of time people spend with their employers and the responsibility that we as employers have to help our people.”

Part of that responsibility includes a focus on mental health. Van Meter was one of the first Iowa workplaces to sign up as a Make It OK Registered Workplace in January 2020.

LEARN MORE: Make It OK in the Workplace

An emphasis on mental health is built into Van Meter’s Total Wellness program through their “wellness pie,” which includes 6 segments: physical, emotional, social, financial, spiritual and safety. Throughout the year, employee-owners are given the opportunity to participate in activities related to each segment in order to earn an incentive.

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Van Meter incorporated Make It OK into their emotional segment activities first in 2020 by encouraging employee-owners to visit the Make It OK website and sign the online pledge to Make It OK. This year, in 2021, employee-owners are encouraged to utilize the Make It OK Mental Health Checklist.

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“Through Make It OK, we could make it impossible for the stigma to exist in the state of Iowa,”  said Ben Woods, a health, safety and wellness coordinator at Van Meter. “Working together across the corridor and across Iowa with a common goal and understanding about how important conversations around mental health are, the faster we erase the stigma.”

Woods leads the company-wide Total Wellness team which includes a representative from each Van Meter location. Members of the Total Wellness team are elected and serve as wellness liaisons at their site to promote the wellness pie and other safety initiatives.

candace“I feel gratitude that I, as an employee, get to weigh in on deciding the wellness pie activities,” said Candace Bassett. Bassett, a two-time Total Wellness team member, is a project coordinator at the Cedar Rapids Service Center. “We try to find activities that are valuable and meaningful and offer ways for people to check in with their mental wellness.”

It’s important to Van Meter that mental health and the Make It OK campaign are supported and communicated from the top-down, from McBride to the wellness pie that all employees have the option to participate in. McBride and Woods also recently participated in a Linn County Make It OK: Community Call to Action event. Make It OK has also been featured on the company intranet and in all-company meetings.

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“If we are truly going to help people, we have to remove the stigma,” said McBride. She encourages other workplaces in Iowa to sign up as a Make It OK Registered Workplace: “You’re not only raising your hand and saying 'This is important' – you’re also getting access to resources to make the best inroads as possible."

When organizations sign up as a Make It OK Registered Workplace, they get access to the Make It OK: Employer Toolkit. The toolkit guides organizations through the Make It OK campaign, including engagement tips, action planning and measurement tools. Additional benefits include access to newsletters, additional resources, knowledge exchange with other organizations and statewide recognition. Register your organization here.


MIOMake It OK is community campaign to reduce stigma by starting conversations and increasing understanding about mental illness.  Start by learning what a mental illness really is. Then, find out what to say and not to say when someone opens up to you.  You can also help others by sharing your own story to help people know they aren’t alone. Learn more about how you can get involved at MakeItOK.org/Iowa.