Counseling grads find new peace, passion through work with wellness firm

1785
A large group of people stands in front of a projector screen.
Jenay Hicks (sixth from left) is pictured with the Equifax marketing team in Atlanta. She gave HelloHealth's self care presentation titled "Leaders Under Fire." HelloHealth photo

Meagan Davies and Jenay Hicks became fast friends as students in Mercer University’s clinical mental health counseling master’s degree program. They had seen firsthand how people in high-pressure jobs were neglecting their own needs and burning out, and they shared a desire to holistically support the wellness of professionals in the workplace.

Since then, Davies and Hicks have established new careers helping people reduce stress and improve their mental health. As members of the team at HelloHealth Clinic, they focus on treating the “whole person,” and they have found greater peace in themselves through this work.

Before enrolling at Mercer, Davies served in executive roles for state and national nonprofit organizations. She said she used to come home from work feeling overwhelmed, anxious and ill, and she wanted to find a way to help other women in high-demand jobs avoid this. Hicks was the associate director of graduate medical education for a medical school, and she saw the signs of burnout in the physicians she was working with as well as in herself. 

Meagan Davies

“I worked in this space where there were high performers, and they dedicated their world to serving the underserved, but they weren’t caring for themselves in a real way,” Hicks said. “I wanted to figure out, what can I do to support them? When I got to Mercer, I met Meagan, who was a kindred spirit who aligned with my genuine desire to want to advocate in the workplace differently, and she and I just always connected from that standpoint.”

In Mercer’s clinical mental health counseling program through the College of Professional Advancement, they found support from top-notch faculty members and bonded with peers with similar values, life experiences and goals. Hicks, who completed her degree in 2020, said the program changed her life and provided the platform for her and Davies to meet, forge a friendship and become colleagues.

“I really credit the (University) with not just preparing us to do good work but actually caring about each of us as an individual too,” said Davies, who completed her Mercer degree in 2019.

Jenay Hicks

About five years ago, Davies became acquainted with Dr. Carmen Mohan, a board-certified internal medicine physician, through the Leadership Atlanta program and learned of her unique concierge medical practice geared toward executives.

“(Dr. Mohan) had learned that in order to treat those clients, you need to treat the whole person and that mental health was a significant portion of that. A lot of people have to go to two or three doctors to have their needs met, and that can be a pretty big obstacle,” Davies said.

Dr. Mohan’s practice grew into HelloHealth Clinic, and Davies joined it in 2020, serving as chief operating officer for a time and now as director of counseling services and a therapist. As the practice looked to expand, Davies recruited Hicks as a counselor a year later. 

Since then, HelloHealth has welcomed three more Mercerians from the clinical mental health counseling program, their common values and training making them natural fits, Davies said. Alumnae Sherice Cross, who also earned a Master of Divinity in pastoral care at Mercer, and Janice Barrocas are contract counselors, and DaCota Goodwin is a current student interning with the practice.

HelloHealth Clinic team members use a tool developed by Dr. Mohan called the Healthy Lifestyle Index to jointly evaluate a person’s physical, mental and emotional health; identify areas that need improvement; and create a plan for treatment, which may include therapy, exercise, time outdoors, meal plans and conventional medicines. The counselors look at the full picture, from sleep to food to exercise to support systems, Davies said.

A video conference call with several people on screen.
Meagan Davies (left) and Dr. Carmen Mohan are shown at the virtual launch of the company in December 2019. HelloHealth photo

“I think medicine is broken,” Davies said. “We’re treating people based on how our insurance companies are dictating we can treat them. I can’t magically wave a wand and fix somebody’s anxiety in six sessions. It doesn’t work like that. And so to be able to work unencumbered without someone else dictating how many times that we’re going to see clients and what it has to look like, I think that feels very freeing. They are getting all of their needs met under one house, which is very different from the (usual) approach to health care.”

HelloHealth started out with five clients and last year served 500, about half of them individuals and half from organizations or businesses the practice is working with. The practice offers counseling sessions to clients in Georgia and workshops for organizations and businesses in the state and beyond, Davies said. 

HelloHealth staff members adapt their curriculum and programming to meet the specific needs of the organizations, leveraging the strengths of the employees and identifying any areas of trauma that need to be mitigated, Hicks said. 

They foster long-term relationships with the employees and stay with them through their triumphs and struggles. Davies and Hicks are especially passionate about helping leaders of color. 

“Mental health directly impacts your decision making, your ability to be inspired,” said Hicks, who describes herself as a person-centered therapist who takes a holistic approach to mental health and therapy. “It impacts your ability to motivate others. It just affects the workplace. And so when we have healthier teams, we have a healthier work culture, but we really have a healthier world. Because we spend so much time at work, it just feels like the return is greater if we start in the workplace. Let’s just hit it where we spend the most time.”

Hicks and Davies said they’ve become different people since switching careers and taking on this work. They practice what they preach and make their own self care and mental health a priority, Hicks said.

“I worked really hard to make sure that I’m in a good place because I can’t ask somebody else to do something that I’m not doing,” Davies said. “So we both live out the HelloHealth plan and incorporate all those things in our lives. Yes, we both have therapists. Yes, we take personal days.”

They recognize that they can’t help their clients get well if they aren’t well, Hicks said. 

“Caring for yourself is a professional responsibility,” Hicks said. “It’s not something that’s optional, and it really speaks to why Meagan and I initially became friends. I think we’re so passionate about this work because we spend the majority of our waking hours at work.”

Two women pose for a photo.
Jenay Hicks (right) with Rissa Reddan, CMO and partner at West Monroe, at the Sisterhood Retreat in Nashville, Tennessee. HelloHealth photo

 

Do you have a story idea or viewpoint you'd like to share with The Den?
Get in touch with us by emailing den@mercer.edu or submitting this online form.