Company Nurse powered by Lintelio has partnered with WEconnect, a leading mobile app supporting employees and their families in recovery and maintaining healthy lifestyles.
The below content is from our interview with Murphy Jensen, Founder and Executive VP of WEconnect Health Management and 1993 French Open Champion.
In honor of National Recovery Month, Murphy is sharing his story and the story behind WEconnect, the app that can support folks who want to improve their relationship with substances and make positive lifestyle changes that stick.
View the full interview, here.
Jackie: My name is Jackie Binsfeld, and I am the marketing manager for Company Nurse powered by Lintelio. With me today is Murphy Jensen, founder and executive VP of WEconnect Health Management and French Open champion. In honor of National Recovery Month, Murphy is sharing his story and the story behind WEconnect, the app that can support folks who want to improve their relationship with substances and make positive lifestyle changes that stick. We will also share the impact of substance misuse on workplaces, the importance of organizations providing recovery tools to their employees, and how Company Nurse powered by Lintelio and WEconnect can help.
So, let’s get started! Murphy, can you please share both your story and the story of WEconnect?
Murphy: Well, do you have enough time? Murphy Jensen at 53, almost 54 years old, has lived some life. I was born on a Christmas tree farm in northern Michigan. Some say I was raised by wolves, but they were mom and dad, amazing mom and dad, and I have twin sisters that are younger and an older brother. Our dad played professional football for the New York Giants, and he wanted his two boys to be football players, so he built a tennis court in our backyard.
Tennis took us places and it showed us all, as a family, a better life. First it was traveling around the Midwest – Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois. And then it took us nationally – San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson, Miami, New York. And then eventually, as a young teenager, around the world. My brother was the number one junior tennis player at the age of 18 in the world in singles and doubles. He was on the cover of tennis magazines, and he ended up going to the University of Southern California for two years before turning professional. I followed in his footsteps in every way – on the tennis court and off the tennis court and ended up at the University of California for two years before turning professional.
I saw my peers from junior tennis, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Michael Chang, becoming millionaires and I was sitting in college struggling with a math class or a dangling participle in English.
So, you know, in my first life, I was a professional tennis player and, yes, a French Open Champion.
Winning the French Open was the beginning of what was to come 20 plus years later. You would think that I had made it, but the truth was, sitting in that locker room, my hand shook and I had anxiety and fear and I didn’t know what was coming.
For the first time in our lives as a family, everything we had worked so hard for and sacrificed for had come true.
My outsides were the best in the world in that moment, but my insides were really scared and nervous. And that led to substance misuse and self-medication. First it was alcohol and then it turned to drugs. And in 1999, while playing the US Open in New York, I found myself at a jumping-off point. Three weeks later in a hotel in Los Angeles, instead of a hotel manager calling the police, he luckily called an interventionist, who said at best, I maybe had a day of my life left if I kept going.
I got in this car the next day after a night of sleep and went through a psych ward and a detox and spent a year in sober living. And this is all while I was in the top 10 in the world.
I had so much fear of hurting those around me that supported me that I didn’t really have any hope and really felt unlovable. I’ll never forget what a tech said in that detox, his name is John. He said, “Murphy, if no one’s told you they love you today, I do. If no one’s told you they love you today, I do.” I’ll never be able to repay that man for that service, that he gave me that moment. And so, I’m in long-term recovery from substance use disorder.
It’s impossible not to feel the feelings when sharing my truth and those feelings don’t come from a place of shame and guilt and remorse. My heart has been healed.
What I thought was the worst thing that could have happened to me turned out to be the biggest gift of my life because my story and my recovery serve as a way out. Substance misuse, way before it becomes a diagnosis or disorder, is treatable and preventable.
Eight years ago, while applying one of the principles of my life, which is being helpful and useful and of service to other people, my mother-in-law asked me if I would take a family friend, who he himself was in an out-patient program for substance use disorder, to a support group meeting. And he liked my tan. He goes, “Where did you get that tan?” and I said, “Well I was at Richard Branson’s island.” He said, “A girl in my outpatient program was there when you were there and she built out system engineering teams for companies like Microsoft and she’s really, really smart.” And he said, “You should meet this girl.”
And so, I met this girl and she shared with me this idea she had that we could leverage smart phones and leverage technology to help people access substance misuse services and support through our smart phones in an anonymous confidential way.
So, I co-founded WEconnect with her and since then, we’ve reached 500,000 people. Almost 500,000 people have attended our in-app support group meeting. Now we’re serving employers and workers’ comp organizations. Mental health and substance misuse and substance abuse disorder affect everybody. You know, it might not be you, but it might be your loved one, it might be your best friend. And what better place to show your employees that you care than by offering a service that helps everyone in case they need it, way before it gets to a jumping-off point that I got to.
If these services that we have embedded into this mobile application were available when I was on the tennis tour, we may have prevented a lot of unnecessary suffering from myself and for my family and everyone around me – my community, my tennis community.
So, Company Nurse powered by Lintelio and WEconnect have partnered up and I am absolutely over the moon excited about being able to share the solution that was shared with me.
You know, what’s really key here is that it’s about providing a safe environment to work and sometimes that safe environment needs a safety net from our thinking. Because my thinking preceded my drinking. You know, I might be in a position at work that I’m not qualified for, I might be in a position where I’ve been tasked to do some work that’s way too overwhelming because five different managers have asked me to do five different things and I’ve got a timeline that I can’t meet but I can’t tell them that I don’t have the time. And so, what do we do? Self-medicate. Why does anyone just have a casual drink? To take the edge off! There’s a difference between the normal drinker and the person that I became trying to escape. I really wasn’t comfortable in my skin, and I shared the truth about what happened because I learned that I wasn’t alone. That other people were like me too. That there was another way. And now, come on 22 years ago in that hotel room to a co-founder of a healthcare tech company partnered with Company Nurse powered by Lintelio, serving millions of people, having it there in case they need it.
Jackie: Thank you so much for sharing your story and the story of WEconnect. I would like to next expand on the impact of substance misuse in the workplace and the importance of organizations providing recovery tools to their employees. I understand that substance misuse is a very expensive problem, and it impacts not just the workers but the entire workforce.
Murphy: The statistics that we’re referencing from the National Institute of Health, say that one in 10 employees suffer from mental health or substance misuse challenges. And that affects productivity, absenteeism, and the cost of turnover.
I look at it more deeply and organically. The entire community is affected, and my mental health challenges and my substance misuse had a ripple effect. It took my entire family hostage. People didn’t know what to do.
The pandemic and returning to the workplace, or the hybrid version of coming back to work, or you name it had effects. Alcohol sales have risen. In 2021, over 110,000 people accidentally overdosed. You know that wasn’t their plan. There’s a word there that we need to hear – “accident.” It was never my intention to hurt my family. It was never my intention to hurt myself. I got to a point where my brain was broken. Where I was incapable of making good decisions for myself.
I think about the employer, the number of people that are engaging in the platform. Because in rural communities like in the Midwest where we launched WEconnect works, there’s only one support group meeting a week. We’ve got 10 per day embedded in the app, led by our peer recovery support specialist. What I can tell you is technology is a bridge, but it’ll never replace human connection.
I’ve just survived a cardiac arrest, which happened 10 months ago. And hearing a support group’s story and experience in recovering from your heart disease is going to help me more than just speaking with a doctor scientifically about my condition.
You need someone with lived experience. So, we have peer recovery support specialists that lead these meetings and access to these peers through the app. And there are specialty meetings for family and loved ones. Unfortunately, this is a growing problem. I’ve got a 22, almost 23, year old and a four-year-old and I’m thinking about my 23-year old’s children, I’m thinking about my four-year-old’s child’s children, and the services in place that are going to support and set this world up for success.
Our company is obviously very aware that these mental health challenges are part of the human condition. Am I enough? Do I have what it takes? If I come in with a narrative that I don’t measure up, it’s only going to be a matter of time before I’m going to find a way to find that relief.
Jackie: Well, thank you for sharing that. I know your team has shared the impact substance misuse has on the organization. Affected employees are five times more likely to file a workers’ comp claim, two times more likely to request time off, and three times more likely to injure themselves in the workplace. So, substance misuse really does have a huge impact on the workplace.
Murphy: Well, those data points are huge and that’s why our partnership with Company Nurse powered by Lintelio is so important.
We have an army of peer recovery support specialists that are nationally and state certified. HR directors aren’t armed with what to do if say I work at a bar. What do I do? How do I continue to work at a bar when I want to stop drinking? And it might not be stopping forever. The tools that I use are for me staying stopped because I crossed the line where I got a diagnosis of substance use disorder, but had I had these services available to me, I would have been able to support myself and understand why I’m doing what I’m doing. It’s more about my mental health challenges that way preceded my substance misuse and self-medication.
I was always for what in this world would help fix me. What we’re hoping to do is defeat isolation. Every feature we have is to combat isolation. Every feature that we have is to support, motivate, and encourage healthy habits.
When an organization lays this out, what they are saying is we care about you. If this is my first day at work at a new organization and imagine if I was recovery curious and I was a little concerned about my alcohol consumption. And if they offered me WEconnect, I’d be like, “Oh this is really cool!” I don’t have to just Google this. This is a service that is going to help me be the best version of me here at work. Sign me up for that all day!
Jackie: And employers, of course, want to help their employees because they care about their employees, they care about their people. And, in turn, a happier employee means a happier workplace. So WEconnect helps everyone involved.
It can be overwhelming to provide access to support meetings, tools to build healthy habits, and access to a recovery and behavioral health specialist. That’s a lot for a company to take on. You provide employers with a way to provide that to their employees and help them get the care they need.
Employers don’t have to provide all these resources themselves; they can just give employees direct access.
Murphy: Yes, direct access and anonymous, I can’t stress that enough, in an anonymous, confidential way. They can attend support group meetings and have access to a peer recovery support specialist. It’s basically a recovery coach to help navigate whatever stressful situation someone might be facing.
An organization may have certain services like a telehealth therapist, but if there’s a wait period and I’m going in a crisis, I can’t wait. And this is where WEconnect comes in with the peer services accessible via text, video, or call.
We’ve had someone utilize the peer services that was facing a court date and this peer met the employee at the courthouse and helped them in person.
Jackie: At Company Nurse powered by Lintelio, we focus on providing health and safety access to employees and are now excited that we provide access to WEconnect. So how does this enhance the WEconnect experience for those looking for help?
Murphy: This partnership could not be more monumental because we have mental health services but there are a lot of mental health services that don’t have substance misuse services.
To be able to access peer support, it’s as simple as scanning a QR code and downloading a mobile app. It’s got to be simple; it can’t be complicated. Within minutes, I can start creating healthy habits, having a conversation with a peer recovery support specialist, and then start tracking my days.
I become a better employee, I become a better friend. What drives me every single day is that what we’re going to do together is going to help people and it’s going to help them be their best version of themselves at work and home.
Jackie: Yes, providing that direct access. If they’re already used to using Company Nurse powered by Lintelio, they are already used to using a health and safety tool and they’re going to be more likely to use other health and safety tools around them.
Murphy: We provide a way collectively that is not only physically safe but mentally safe. It’s okay to not be okay today and I can reset and restart my day any time I want. I didn’t know that my day could get derailed by noon and that I could restart – jump in a support group meeting, reach out to a peer, and restart and by the end of the day, have the best day ever.
It really boils down access to services in a way that’s easy and friendly and warm
At the end of the day, you’re looking at a guy that has overcome some stuff and that has forgiven himself. I live a life that’s beyond my wildest dreams.
And we put these solutions into this platform and we’re sharing it with you through Company Nurse powered by Lintelio.
My only mission on this planet is that when anybody anywhere at any time reaches out their hand and says, “I need help,” is that we are there for them.
If you want to learn more, please visit https://www.weconnecthealth.io/lintelio