Mental Health Awareness Month: Film Companies Spotlight the NeedMay 25th, 2022 by Chris Collier
Kris Queen battled his second meningitis case in December 2021. The physical maladies occurred six years apart and forced the tinter to take stock of his mental health. Mental Health Awareness Month’s 2022 theme is “Back to Basics,” an appropriate designation for this period of Queen’s life.
“That was a big eye-opener on how I needed to take care of my life and pay attention to my mental health,” says Queen, owner of 5Star Window Tinting/Sun Stoppers South Chicago in New Lenox, Ill. “ … I was in a coma for nine days and out of work for a month and a half.”
Queen’s second bout took place in the thick of the slow season, a time when project frequency fluctuates, but his team members carried the burden. “They did so well to support me, which helped me mentally,” he says. “What am I going to do with work, bills and my kids? They got me through that.”
Queen founded 5Star Window Tinting in 2014, merging with Sun Stoppers on Sept 1, 2020. The company offers graphics and wraps, window tinting, ceramic coating and paint protection film (PPF).
“I wear my feelings on my sleeve,” Queen says. “Instead of losing my cool or getting upset, I try to smile, wait until I go to the gym and let it out there. I know it’s going to help me mentally and physically.
“I’ve been doing this since ’89, and I’ve never had to call the cops as much as I have in the past two years,” says Jared Becker, founder/CEO of Shore Tint and More in Seaford, Del. “Customers have gotten to the point where they feel they can say whatever they want and treat you however they want. You’re going to take it, or they’re going to cancel you via Google or Facebook reviews.”
Ashley Wilson Becker, office manager at the company, communicates with 40 to 50 customers each day.
“It’s close to home because I have bad anxiety,” Ashley says of Mental Health Awareness Month. “It’s maintaining and functioning on a day-to-day basis for me; keeping my mind focused and going forward.”
As consumers become increasingly impatient and irritable, Queen reflects on expansive economic uncertainty. “I think it’s because everything costs more money,” he adds. “Customers are used to coming to you for years with the dollar amount they are comfortable with. But then we have to raise our prices [as well]. The cost of goods—they don’t understand it. We all have to eat and afford life.”
“I focus on my child,” Jared says of managing his mental health. “I’ve got a five-year-old little guy, and I’ve learned how to let work be work. Even though I own it, it doesn’t need to own me. You’ve got to be able to come home and separate family from business. Not only does my wife Ashley work with me, but my son Cody does too.”
Anthony Kleon handles sales and installations at Automotive Appearance Pros in Lewis Center, Ohio. “I have three beautiful children that keep me on track,” Kleon says. “That is my motivation, and my spare time consists of hanging out with them. I spend 47.5 hours here a week, and that’s a lot of time.”
With all that time within a shop’s walls, picking the right team is crucial in securing a healthy work environment. Jared’s advice is simple: hire like-minded people.
“You can’t hire as a friend; you’ve got to hire with your heart,” Jared says. “You have to feel whether they’ll bring positivity into the business. All it takes is one rotten apple to bring down the whole bunch.”
America has observed Mental Health Awareness Month since 1949. More than 73 years later, the stigma around self-care is evaporating. Queen says well-being starts and ends with a conversation.
“You need someone to talk to,” Queen says. “To keep a focused mindset without falling into depression, you have to talk to somebody. Trying to fight it on your own doesn’t help. I had to not bottle it up and talk to someone about it.”