April 4, 2018

Why A Mental Health Leave Can Make A World of Difference



I’m Alex, the founder of Work Nicer (on the right up there in the photo).

The past two and half years since opening the doors at Work Nicer have been absolutely crazy and awesome. Some of you were there in our original space but most of you were not. Many don’t even know that it existed. There were only about 30 members there when we moved into our Stephen Avenue location.

The one person who was there late every night trying to make the place perfect, helping me drag furniture around until midnight, loading a U-Haul full of used office furniture, and posting on social media to accounts without followers, was Dario. He’s my Co-Founder, I’ve known him for almost 5 years, and we’ve seen each other through many ups and downs. I’ve seen peak Dario, and I’ve seen Dario now.

I know him better than most and I know his story is one of incredible resiliency. This resiliency has brought him great strength but that strength has come with some side-effects. I’m going to let him explain more below but I’ve asked and provided Dario the opportunity to take a two-month leave from Work Nicer so he can take care of himself.

A two-month-full-on-clean-break-cold-turkey-leave. It’s weird but I’m super excited to see the impact Dario has on himself and the others who relate to his journey. <3



My name is Dario Joseph Verrelli (on the left up there in the photo) and this is an open letter to both entrepreneurs and members of our wonderful coworking community that I am proudly the co-founder of.


Many of you know me by my laugh.

The level-5 cackle as some of you have so endearingly referred to it as. That my friends can echo-locate me solely by my laughter makes me extremely happy.

In the Work Nicer community, I’m the happy-go-lucky fellow. I hug a lot, and I talk a lot. This is one of my roles as co-founder, to be myself and it’s a wonderful job.

So it may have come as a surprise to some when I started to disappear, to sequester. I was told of inquiries to my lack of presence, a wonderful consideration for someone like myself who recharges by being alone but loves the people he surrounds himself by.

A lot of you know that I’m fairly open about my mental health, the fact I suffer from anxiety, and that I take medication for it. I’m open about this because I believe it’s my role as a community founder to show strength to those who may be seeking it. Discussing our opportunities is one of the greatest ways for us to overcome them, and that especially when there are those around you that want to support and help you become the greatest version of yourself.

What many of you do not know, unless you’re fairly close to me, is why I suffer from anxiety.

My past is an interesting one and unfortunately, may be a familiar one to some. If you want to know more, feel free to hit me up for a decaf coffee and I’ll share. However, a victory I will share with you now, and that I see everyday, is the +15 that bridges the Husky building across from Work Nicer Stephen Ave. That’s where a kind security guard use to let me stay warm and sleep from 10pm to 5am when I was homeless for nearly a year.

I take pride in looking at it now, as I stand in my own success, aided by the good people I have cultivated.

I mention this because each step I took out of past spaces did not always bring with it closure, positive affirmation, and/ or the skills to surmount the next mountain that life decided to place in front of me

We all have our own stories, and each of them hold weaknesses that we try to overcome so we can become stronger, for ourselves, our circles, and our families. We also have different ways to deal with stress, anxiety, and difficulties. I have my own, and this is why I’m excited and completely frightened for the opportunity that has presented itself to me, that of facing my past as I take a mental health sojourn over the next two months.

What does this mean for my role at Work Nicer?

You may actually see me more often 🙂 but I won’t actively be involved in the day-to-day for the next 2 months. I’m still the co-founder. Nothing changes behind-the-scenes, as the team is incredibly robust.

We’re being very transparent about this because we believe that employers should not only provide mental health leave, but recognize the signs that their employees may need support in that challenge.

More importantly though, is the fact that as an organization who doesn’t sugarcoat the struggles we face as entrepreneurs, you know you’re not alone in any battle you may be facing behind the veil.

For myself, to be offered an opportunity to step back and focus on my own mental health, is both a boon and curse.

Entrepreneurs aren’t known for wanting to step away from their projects, especially one in the midst of growth. I’m no different, but my best friend and business partner, Alex, also needs me to be 100% to tackle the future.

So here I am, both frightened and excited.

If anyone has any questions, whether for me or about their own struggles, please feel free to come talk with me. Part of my telling everyone this is to reduce the stigma and hopefully help others to be honest with themselves and the battles they may be facing.

Just come say hi.

–  Dario