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  • Writer's pictureJoey Amato

Talkspace Celebrates LGBTQ Pride: A Conversation with Richie Nguyen, Chief Network Officer


Talkspace is a leading virtual mental health company that was founded 12 years ago and remains one of the most trusted teletherapy companies around that helps you see your own dedicated, licensed therapist or prescriber from anywhere in the 50 states. Covered by insurance for more than 140 million people we are the largest digital mental health provider in-network. Therapy is even more accessible as visits are now the cost of a copay for so many. We sat down with Richie Nguyen to discuss his rise to the organization's Chief Network Officer.


Talk about your road to management and any obstacles you faced being an out LGBTQ executive

I started my career working for an non-profit focused on individuals living with/at-risk for HIV and underserved communities - was more comfortable being out because much of the staff identified as LGBTQ and organization served many LGBTQ client populations. I felt more conflicted about being out when I joined the corporate world as a management consultant and had to serve clients from all across the country, including clients from traditional industries. For example I remember freezing and feeling uncomfortable when comments assumed that I was straight / had a female spouse, and was scared that being out would impact my ability to be effective and dodged questions or used ambiguous language (e.g. my partner); didn’t feel comfortable being fully myself in the workplace - fear of judgment, fear they would look at me differently, would impact our working relationship; didn’t like how i felt afterwards.

 

 

How did you overcome those obstacles? Did you have any mentors along the way?

I had some colleagues/mentors that i met through the employee resource group at the time, and was able to talk through some of the discomfort and how/if i wanted to be out. Moving forward, made the decision to be out in the workplace - not that i necessarily had to actively “come out” each time I met a new client, but made a conscious decision that i would bring my authentic self to the workplace. What’s interesting about being “out” in the workplace, it isn’t a one time thing, it is an ongoing decision to bring that aspect of myself to the workplace everyday 

 

If you could do one thing differently in your career thus far, what would it be?

Not sure i would do anything differently in my career, happy with where i am now and truly believe that a lot of the challenges/set backs that i’ve experienced have helped me learn and become a better professional.

 

However, I would tell my younger self to care less about what other people think of me.

 

How do you help make Talkspace a more inclusive environment for your staff?

At Talkspace, i lead care delivery operations and oversee our provider network, consisting of therapists and psychiatry clinicians. 

 

Within the network, it is important to foster an inclusive environment for our clinicians, as well as ensure that our care is culturally sensitive / appropriate for our clients.

 

We have a Google chat group for employed therapists LGBTQIA+ and allies to create community spaces for our therapists who work remotely all across the country; also have a Google chat group focused on anti-racism and anti-bias - this helps providers share information and thought partner on how to bring this to their practice.

 

We also have trainings for all of our clinicians on working with LGBTQIA+ clients and incorporating DEIAB into clinical practice;it is of utmost importance for our clinicians to provide an inclusive space for our clients.

 

What advice would you give young professionals trying to advance their careers while being an out professional?

I encourage them to bring authentic selves to the workplace, it enables them to build rapport and have stronger relationships with colleagues, which is critical for being effective and being able to drive change.

 

Seek out mentors. Those who have experienced similar things in the past can give helpful advice/perspectives; they may not have all the right answers, but are a good sounding board to discuss issues challenges.

 

-Do you have any hobbies outside or work?

I play in a LGBTQ kickball league in San Francisco - has been a great way to make new friends in a new city. I also enjoy live music & concerts, podcasts on society & culture, group fitness classes.

 

Do you support any non-profit organizations? If so, which ones?

Most recently served on the advisory board of APAIT (Access to Prevention Advocacy Intervention & Treatment), a non-profit organization that provides a wide range of services (e.g. behavioral health, housing, HIV & substance abuse treatment and prevention services) to underserved and vulnerable communities in Southern California

 

The current focus is on addressing housing crisis is Los Angeles providing transitional housing and social services to marginalized communities

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