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The Inclusive Excellence Podcast: What if success was measured by wellbeing?

In this episode of the Inclusive Excellence Podcast, Erin Sember-Chase and Toral Patel are joined by Wai-Kwong Wong and Jasmine Jay, colleagues at Cornell’s Faculty & Staff Assistance Program (FSAP). The pair explore the evolution of mental health in the workplace and discuss what the university might look like when well-being is prioritized and used as a standard to measure success.

Wai-Kwong Wong and Jasmine Jay recording the podcast in the studio.

Neither Wong nor Jay expected their careers to land them at FSAP. However, both are cultivating an inclusive environment that provides specialized care to help meet the unique needs of Cornell’s faculty and staff members. Wong has been employed at Cornell since 1999, spending twenty-three years in Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) before he was named the director of FSAP nearly a year ago. Jay has been at Cornell for almost a decade after arriving at the university as an MFA student in creative writing. She then transitioned into teaching at the institution before taking a step back from academia and assuming her current role as the lead clinical administrative assistant at FSAP.

Since Jay and Wong first arrived, they have recognized a shift in the discussion of mental health in the workplace and the resources that are now available to employees. According to Jay and Wong, mental health is increasingly becoming recognized as a community concern rather than an individual issue.

“I’ve seen campus conversations about mental health really evolve and addressed as a campus-wide concern,” Jay said. “There's a lot more conversation coming from the top down about how mental health is something that is our collective responsibility and that one person's mental health doesn't just influence their individual health but rather influences the wellness of the community and workplace.”

This cultural shift aligns with Cornell’s commitment to being a Health Promoting Campus. Wong and Jay discuss the changes in culture, priorities and values that must occur when pursuing this vision. For the pair, this means reevaluating measurements of success in the workplace and prioritizing mental health and wellbeing instead of rewarding efficiency and productivity.

“It doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice excellence,” Wong said. “But we don't have to sacrifice people either. Being a Health Promoting Campus in the context of Cornell does mean a culture shift in the way we think of excellence and what success means. And perhaps, we begin to think of excellence not in terms of production goals but rather in terms of supporting people being human.”

Tune in to Episode 79: What if Success Was Measured by Wellbeing? to hear more about Wong and Jay’s unique journeys to FSAP, their perspectives on prioritizing mental health and what individuals can do to help cultivate wellbeing in the workplace. Visit to access the episode and transcript.

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