The most popular class in Yale’s history brought in over 1,200 enrollments in its first semester. The class, taught by Professor Laurie R. Santos, was called “Psychology and the Good Life” or, more colloquially, “What Actually Makes Us Happy?”
Many things contribute to happiness. One essential component, according to Santos, is compassion. Santos describes compassion as the emotion felt when someone wants to provide care for and connect to another person.
For Spring Health’s Director of Revenue Enablement Erica Gomez, this compassion is a balm for contemporary disconnection — which is exacerbated by power dynamics, social media and bullying.
“Human connection is free,” said Gomez. “And research shows that doing good for others increases our own happiness and lowers depression.”
There is plenty of research that supports Gomez’s thoughts on connection. A study conducted at Stanford University found that low social connection is worse for a person’s physical health than smoking or having high blood pressure. The study also found that having meaningful social connections increases the chance of longevity by 50 percent.
Happiness is rejecting society’s traditional parameters for success and chasing true purpose, Gomez argues.
“If you are helping others, you are living your purpose — and if you’re living your purpose, you are more successful than everyone else who seems so,” she said
Part of how Gomez finds success and connection at work is through one of Spring Health’s eight ERGs — ¡Viva Spring! — which is designed for all LatinX, Portuguese, Spanish and Hispanic team members and allies.
Built In spoke with Gomez about what ¡Viva Spring! does differently than other ERGs to help create an ecosystem of connection and equity.
The mission of ¡Viva Spring! is to connect through shared cultural values, experiences and perspectives. We do this by celebrating our roots and cultivating an environment that elevates our communities' diverse identities and voices through personal and professional growth.
We are a proactive group that works to increase awareness and eliminate barriers in order to advance inclusivity and diversity through action. We collectively pursue fair access to career advancement, mentorship, opportunity and recognition for the members of our communities.
What was a meaningful recent initiative of ¡Viva Spring!?
We are in the process of launching the company’s first allyship and inclusion training — talk about being a progressive company.
While diversifying an organization is very important, it’s only one facet of work equity. By focusing on all of the facets, we can move closer to an equitable workplace. Allyship training will allow us to educate the organization about how to create an inclusive climate fostered by fairness, transparency and accountability. These are topics that most companies prefer to avoid, but we are addressing them head-on.
“Allyship training will allow us to educate the organization about how to create an inclusive climate.”
We also recently launched an initiative called Resume Raids. Resume coaches are very costly, and many people don’t have access to senior professionals with experience writing resumes. This initiative removed barriers that limit our community from obtaining certain positions of interest.
What was it about the Resume Raids program that impacted you the most?
I had an opportunity to speak to younger colleagues who are just starting their careers. While we focused heavily on how to improve their resume, we also spent a lot of time talking about what's important to them, their values and how to translate that into their professional brand.
What I loved most about this program is it reshaped the mentor-mentee framework by serving as a bridge mentorship program. With this approach, we were able to intentionally connect diverse individuals to help level the playing field. The process fostered empathy and cross-cultural communication.
What makes your ERG stand out from similar ERGs in other companies?
The ¡Viva Spring! ERG is unique because we home in on what our community needs both internally and externally — identifying ways to support and execute. We take pride in launching initiatives that directly impact people in a way that really makes a difference. We speak authentically, foster psychological safety and create space for everyone to express themselves in a way that feels like home.
How do you bring the work of the committee to your personal life?
I would say it’s the opposite: I bring my personal life and guiding principles to the committee. From an adolescent age, I realized the system was broken. In high school, my teachers rarely asked me about college plans but asked other students about their plans. It was as if they knew I didn’t have the means to pursue college — and they were right.
I will never forget the guidance counselor who saw my potential and spoke to my parents about different colleges that provided robust financial aid packages for students from urban districts. That one person changed the trajectory of my life because she treated me fairly, helped give me access to opportunities and helped advance my life.
Since then, I realized these values are my guiding principles for navigating life. I constantly ask: Who benefits from this? Who suffers from it? Are we taking our privilege into account? Can everyone obtain access?
Our initiatives allow others to think differently, speak up when they see imbalances and empower them to become allies for others.
“I constantly ask: Who benefits from this? Who suffers from it? Are we taking our privilege into account? Can everyone obtain access?”
How is the mission of ¡Viva Spring! contributing to the broader mission at Spring Health?
Spring Health's mission to eliminate every barrier to mental health might sound altruistic, but many people were also skeptical when society demanded equal rights for marginalized groups — starting with a woman's right to vote over a century ago. Having an altruistic mission means that we are unselfish and hyper-focused on helping others.
The committee’s focus is the same. It’s not about us and our achievements; it’s how those achievements can help the one or the many. We are on a mission to help our community’s voice be heard, elevate their professional trajectory and help them feel comfortable with who they are.
In summary, these are current barriers that exist and we are passionate about eliminating those barriers in conjunction with the barriers that keep people from accessing mental health support.