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Kelz Bethel: Making Positive Mental Health More Inclusive, Diverse, and Global

Kelz Bethel: Making Positive Mental Health More Inclusive, Diverse, and Global

Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and an online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs. 

Spiffy here with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Kelz Bethel, the co-founder and CEO of Recess Lab Inc. Let’s learn what’s happening at Recess Lab Inc. and how Kelz is making a positive impact in the world.

Spiffy: Hi Kelz, thanks a million for talking to me today. Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through Recess Lab Inc.?

Kelz: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! Recess addresses the issue of mental health and its effect on global workplace productivity. WHO projects that mental health will cost the global workforce six trillion dollars by 2030. Post COVID, 90% of businesses in NYC said that they were investing more into corporate mental wellness. The challenge is that although there is more investment in mental health, the impact on workplace presentism is only marginal (the act of showing up for work without being productive). For me I attribute that discrepancy to a) cost vs scale (high cost of spend but low reach), b) long term (traditional solutions have long-term treatment plans to see results), c) mindset vs biology (mindset requires practice but biological interventions have lasting effects).

Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?

Kelz: My parents are pretty successful entrepreneurs in my home country, Trinidad and Tobago. Over the 30 years I witnessed them growing the company from nothing to a household name in T&T. What I also saw was how stress, burnout, and more so a paralyzing fear of failure plateaued the growth of their company. For me, this has become a very personal motivation because, in many ways, I see these same challenges in myself, and I could see similar patterns in the people that I managed. When you're from diverse backgrounds, this becomes even more apparent. This is why my personal mission has been to make positive mental health more inclusive, diverse, and global.

Spiffy: I love that! How would you describe the impact of your work?

Kelz: Recess' technology can make a major contribution to the global workforce. We believe that Recess would make a larger impact through B2B partnerships. When we thought about it, we recognized that Recess would make a bigger B2B rather than direct to consumer. If businesses take a very small contribution of their overall corporate wellness spend towards Recess, they can see major improvements in the impact of their employees’ overall productivity, function, and overall positive mental health.

Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organization milestone or initiative, and how it affects the Recess community.

Kelz: One of our biggest milestones recently would be building our proprietary algorithm into our product. This is a huge deal as one of the major challenges with mental health is understanding what is happening to you. It's the same in positive mental health as well, so we were super excited that the team was able to create a method that would help people determine what their underlying challenge is, and immediately recommend the perfect session for them. 

Spiffy: That’s awesome! Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience before I let you go?

Kelz: I was also selected by the US department of State as a fellow, as a leading entrepreneur in the Americas [Canada, Latin America and Caribbean]. For this, I have been placed in New York City with the Meta Bronx Accelerator. This has been critical for building relationships that we need to make a greater impact. 

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Kelz—it’s been an honor!

Kelz Bethel, the co-founder and CEO of Recess Labs Inc., is an award-winning tech entrepreneur. With 14 years of experience, she has founded three startups and is known for her leadership in tech entrepreneurship. Kelz focuses on building impactful innovations and democratizing access to mental health. She has won numerous awards and represented the Caribbean region globally. She actively shapes the future by advising and guiding

Caribbean start-ups, and serving on their advisory boards. (First published on the Ladderworks website on July 27, 2023.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.