How Leaders Can Address Mental Health Issues in the Workplace

When it comes to mental health issues in the workplace, we still have a long way to go. There is unfortunately a lot of stigma associated with mental health in offices around the world, and this affects both individuals and the business as a whole. So, how can team leaders, managers, and CEOs eliminate this stigma and support their employees’ mental wellbeing? 

The most important thing to understand is that mental health issues are a serious matter, but a lot of times, we cannot tell someone is suffering, especially in the workplace. A lot of people are ashamed and afraid to open up about their struggles, as they don’t want to seem lazy, unfocused, or unproductive. In other words, many employees are afraid to speak up abut mental health because they’re afraid they might lost their job or their position. That’s why the most crucial step to take as a leader is to strive to create a comfortable environment for employees. It should be a constant effort to establish a culture of communication, of openness, of acceptance, and of trust. Here are a few ways to achieve this. 

1. Set an example

The best thing you can do as a leader to support the mental wellbeing of your team members is to lead by example. Normalize the conversation regarding mental health, to eliminate the stigma and fear surrounding this subject. Open up about your own struggles, how you’ve overcome them, and the lessons you’ve learned. This way, not only will you encourage your team to be open regarding their mental health, but you will also establish a stronger connection with your employees and help them avoid burnout. Don’t be afraid to show that you are also human, that you make mistakes, that you deal with the same issues that everyone does; your employees will follow your example and do the same. 

2. Don’t be an absent leader

In many companies, leaders, managers, and C-level executives are out of reach for most employees. They work in their private offices, are constantly busy with meetings and clients, and you only see them when something goes wrong or during performance reviews. Sadly, absent leadership can lead to high turnover, so do your best to be present and to interact with your team members. Even if it’s just to pop in once in a while and ask them how they’re doing; it shows that you care about them as people. Don’t rely on your scheduled one-on-one meetings to check in with your team; reach out and interact to show that you’re interested in their wellbeing. They will feel more connected to you and more likely to come to you with their issues and struggles. 

3. Give your employees control

Going back to what we’ve said before, while it’s important for leaders to be present, it’s also crucial that you know when to step back. Micromanaging in itself can trigger a lot of anxiety and frustration in employees, so give your team control, autonomy, and flexibility. Allow your team members to self-organize and manage their tasks independently, and they will feel more in control, more trusted, and more confident in their work. You don’t want to be causing mental health issues in the office, so find that balance between being helpful and supportive and being a micromanager. You’ve hired your team for a reason; let them do the job they were hired for. Allow them to work flexible hours, work remotely, and take ownership of their projects. You’ll find that productivity, job satisfaction, and loyalty will also surge. 

4. Encourage work-life balance

We talked before about leading by example. The same principles apply when it comes to the delicate and elusive work-life balance we all look for. It’s true that, as a manager or CEO, your schedule will be a lot busier compared to other people in your company, but you should make an effort to ‘practice what you preach.’ Take your vacation days, leave work at a reasonable hour, take regular breaks away from your desk, basically try to find a work-life balance for yourself. That will encourage your employees to do the same, and it will do wonders for their wellbeing. Let your team members know that it’s ok for them to leave the office before you do, that it’s ok to take breaks, go out for lunch, take a mental health day or a vacation when they need it. 

5. Provide assistance and resources

The most important thing you can do as a leader when it comes to mental health issues in the workplace is to listen. Listen to your employees without judgement, and most importantly, without downplaying the significance of their issues. Don’t say things like ‘it’s probably just a phase’ or tell them to ‘get over it,’ as this will only make matters worse, and your employee will probably never come to you again for advice and support. Listen to them, offer support and reassurance, and take their issues seriously. Try to incorporate this supportive approach in your company culture by providing your employees access to mental health resources, such as coaching programs or stress management and mindfulness workshops. Provide in-office training or access to online seminars, or even hire an in-house career coach or counselor. This way, you’ll be able to prevent mental health issues within your team, and your employees will feel that much more cared for and supported. 

Before you go…

If you or someone you know are dealing with mental health issues, or are in need of counseling and support in your professional or personal lives, don’t hesitate to reach out to Miracle Activation Center. Our team has vast experience dealing with mental health issues, and can assist you or your loved ones in your time of need. 

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