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Case Study 

Genentech & Roche

Industry:        Biotechnology

Size:                  22,000 employees

Location:         Multiple U.S. locations and global presence

Time frame:   March 2019 - August 2020


  • Two training sessions for ~175 Mental Health Champions

Result highlights:

  • 89% of Champions felt better-equipped to support their colleagues around mental health.

  • 89% of Champions felt more comfortable talking about mental health at work. 

  • 89% of Champions had a better understanding of mental health and stigma at work. 

Networking Event
Lecture on Religion
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About Genentech & Roche

Genentech & Roche is a biotechnology company dedicated to pursuing groundbreaking science to discover and develop medicines for people with serious and life-threatening diseases.

The Context

In May 2019, Genentech & Roche launched a mental health awareness campaign, which soon led to the formation of a Mental Health Champions group. Prior, the company provided resources through its Employee Assistance Program and healthcare plan, but saw that there was significant stigma surrounding mental health that prevented people from seeking this support.

The importance of leadership support was necessary to reduce stigma, so leaders were engaged to tell their own personal stories around mental health. Six leaders agreed to be recorded, including a global head, directors, and managers. “The organization responded with warmth,” one HR leader shared. ”But this also opened our eyes to the  need to understand what to look for and how to support people managing mental health conditions.” 

In fall 2019, Genentech & Roche launched their Mental Health Champions program—a group of volunteers who could model support for mental health and help raise awareness of the company’s mental health resources. With its launch, Genentech & Roche looked for ways to equip these Champions for their role to support their colleagues and themselves.


“I had this a-ha moment, having struggled with mental health issues myself... If employees—who might be at their most vulnerable—were going to be open to seeking care, we needed to remove every barrier that could get into their way, which included providing a more supportive experience.” 

- Deborah Olson, Principal Benefits Manager at U.S. Genentech & Roche

The Solution

Mind Share Partners provided two interactive training sessions to equip Champions for their role.


The trainings focused on: 

  • The spectrum of mental health, signs and symptoms, and the impact in the workplace. 

  • Workplace situations where mental health may play a role, and how to navigate them.

  • Proactive ways to create a mentally healthy team culture, including how to have healthy, productive conversations about mental health with team members and colleagues. 

  • Balancing supporting colleagues and self-care.

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The Impact

Feedback from both Mental Health Champion training sessions was positive. After the trainings, nearly all participants surveyed (89%+): 

  • Had a better understanding of mental health and stigma at work. 

  • felt more comfortable talking about mental health at work.

  • felt better-equipped to support their colleagues around mental health. 

  • felt more comfortable reaching out to HR or one’s manager with any mental health needs.

“I wish this training [was something] everyone had to take yearly.” 

- Mental Health Champion training participant

Growth of Champions. In under a year, the Champions group grew to over 250 volunteers, and exceeded its goal of encompassing 1% of Genentech & Roche’s 22,000 US-based employees. Volunteers include every level across the organization, representing identities across race, ethnicity, tenure, and age. 

Greater awareness and community-building. The Champions continue to advocate for more awareness and broad support of mental health across Genentech & Roche. By the end of 2020, thousands of employees across the company had been given shirts that ask “R U OK?” and many wear them faithfully on Wednesdays as a way to signal to others that it is okay to talk openly. “It sets the stage,” said a Champion, “[It shows that] mental health support is not driven by one person or one team.” In May 2020, one year after the first set of leader videos on mental health, dozens of Champions recorded videos while working from home on the topics of talking openly, the “R U OK” campaign, self care, and stigma. Many employees mention their support of mental health in their email signatures. 

Expansion in mental health efforts. In part following Mind Share Partners’ advice, the Champions were able to secure buy-in for five new part-time rotations to focus more deeply on mental health at Genentech & Roche. The Champions continue  to push for broad support of mental health at Genentech & Roche, considering future questions: 

  • How to support individuals and make it even easier in accessing and using resources. 

  • Ways to build out and empower the Mental Health Champions group. 

  • Ways to embed support for mental health in formal processes, such as giving people credit for volunteering as a Champion within performance reviews. 

Office Coffee Break

“All of this has been not only empowering for people, but also enlightening for people. It’s ok for people to share. It’s why we are a great place to work. We recognize the significance of mental health. Who wouldn’t love to show up to work authentically, honestly, and to be accepted for that? That is profound, and what employees are looking for in an employer.”

- Deborah Olson, Principal Benefits Manager at U.S. Genentech & Roche


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