Interview with Cilia Keser and Anje de Jager from Nexio Projects


Keeping the conversation about mental health open while defining the boundaries between what we can help with as a management team and the safety and confidentiality of our employees.


Involving OpenUp as a third party to provide a mental health service, which our employees can refer to as an external resource for support and to get in contact with professionals.

At OpenUp, we strongly believe that a key component in the workplace is to create an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings. We are proud to say that we are not the only ones working based on this philosophy. 


Companies such as Nexio Projects, are on the same mission to make mental health accessible for all their employees. Cilia Keser, managing partner & chief of People and Anje de Jager, marketing strategist at Nexio Projects, shared with us their experience with OpenUp and the outcomes of this strategic partnership.

When was the first time you thought about offering OpenUp to your employees?


Being in sustainability, we always considered it fundamental to think about both mental and physical well-being, we see them as very interconnected. Our goal was to set up a plan that supported both aspects for our employees in a holistic approach. In January we did a benchmarking exercise with an external party, where we looked at the priorities for our organisation.  And that’s where OpenUp came into play. We are now on our journey together for half a year.


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What made you choose OpenUp?


What really attracted us the most to the platform is the idea of nudging people to look for support, while still keeping it very confidential. The privacy, accessibility and availability that OpenUp offers are something that we looked for in a partner. The connection with the team then made us realise that you “practice what you preach”, which made us more than happy to start the collaboration. 

“The privacy, accessibility and availability that OpenUp offers are something that we looked for in a partner. “

Is mental health discussed openly at your company?


We have a company culture where communication is direct, and we are all very open with each other. Mental health has always been a discussed topic, especially around COVID times. Feelings of loneliness during the pandemic, social anxiety, stress at work or in private life have all been elements that pushed us forward in collaborating with a third party that could benefit the organisation. We believe that bringing up mental health into the workspace creates a safe environment and encourages people to be more open about working with a platform like OpenUp. That also showed in the numbers, as half of our people are already using the sessions!  


How do you communicate about OpenUp in the company?


We communicate about it on different levels. As management,  we mention the service at least once a month! But the main success in communication comes from the internal ambassadors who share their experiences with OpenUp. We have a group of people who use the service regularly and it has even come up during our weekly company-wide meeting, for example. We think this element of word of mouth is even more powerful!


Additionally, we regularly share articles and OpenUp resources in our HR slack channel. Sometimes it’s even communicated from other colleagues within the team, so it really is a shared effort. We believe that having these forms of communication internally really helps in getting people excited about the platform and curious to try it out.

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“Whenever I hear people talk about their struggles – mostly during informal conversations – I try to nudge them toward booking a session and/or reaching out for support.”

Anje, how do see your role as an ambassador and how do you feel about that?


Having been in the company for almost two and a half years now and knowing the team quite personally, I am very open about the fact that I use OpenUp. Whenever I hear people talk about their struggles – mostly during informal conversations – I try to nudge them toward booking a session and/or reaching out for support. Being truly connected with your team sometimes also requires you to refer them to the appropriate external resources we now offer. I believe my role is to create this awareness by sharing my personal experience and the benefits I derive. 



How does your company work towards ensuring the mental well-being of your employees?


We have a home office and a remote-work policy, which are part of our well-being package. We saw that the element of flexibility was quite important for our employees, especially after the pandemic. Our goal is to foster our culture and keep our tribe feel in place, without forcing people to come to the office five days a week. Similarly, with the remote policy, we allow people to work remotely for one week every month from their place of choice – they could link that to holidays, for example. In addition to the OpenUp service, we also offer a Headspace subscription and we have a monthly workout that we do all together for physical well-being. 

Although we are quite confident of the culture we have created, and the resources that we offer, we can never claim to have the perfect solution for mental wellbeing at work. We understand that there is a boundary between what we can offer, what OpenUp can offer and when there is a need for additional support from medical professionals.

OpenUp is part of the toolbox that we’ve created to amplify a message that was already there. It is the puzzle piece that adds to the bigger picture of both the mental and physical well-being of the team.

What kind of change can you feel in the company ever since you started with OpenUp?


I wouldn’t say that there was a significant shift in our company culture. Rather, I think OpenUp is the perfect tool that complements our way of being. Being able to say that we can now support employees’ mental health is huge for us. That has also instilled more confidence in voicing our benefits – we feel like we have a comprehensive package that suits the needs of our team



Did you get any feedback from your employees so far?


Yes! I had a couple of people come up to me with positive feedback and the recurring element was the quality of the psychologists, but also the availability – as it is so easy to book a session. The fact that it is so low-barrier can also create so much insight for people who never tried therapy before.


On a personal note, what we greatly value is also the respect that OpenUp shows towards people with more serious mental illnesses.  The fact that you are willing to say: “I don’t think we are the most appropriate match to help you with these struggles. But here are the contacts that you can refer to for a further journey.” To us, this shows that OpenUp is a reliable, open and honest service.

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