Neglecting your mental health is like expecting a plant to grow without water. It’ll eventually die. That’s how important your mind is to the rest of your body. And it’s what often goes unnoticed when working alongside our peers, colleagues and leaders.
Just because we don’t see what someone might be dealing with doesn’t mean all is well. Unfortunately, fear of judgment or not knowing what’s appropriate to say keeps people suffering in silence.
Your mind often stands in the way of where you are and where you want to be. The distance between the two is really up to you. In other instances, our challenges can run far deeper than a shift in perspective, yet we’re not talking about it in the very places we spend 8 hours of our day. Work.
The past year has brought to light just how important mental health is, as so many have and continue to suffer from the ongoing change, fear and uncertainty.
Post-COVID, leaders have an opportunity to be more active in raising awareness around mental health in the workplace. It’s the one conversation we’re not having enough of and need to discuss more often.
A survey of more than 5, 000 employees conducted in the 4th quarter of 2020 found that nearly 49% of employees who reported their organizations offered a mental well-being program participated in it in 2020.
We can’t ignore the importance of our well-being, including our mental health. Organizations and leaders will need to help drive awareness more than ever before, offering benefits and resources that support employees more holistically.
Here are a few ways leaders can bring more light to mental health at work:
- Model the behaviour you wish to see – be open to sharing about yourself and allow your team and employees to relate to you more personally. Part of dissolving the stigma associated with mental health in corporate is seeing leadership display humility and being relatable. Find opportunities to share openly and encourage employees to do the same.
2. Consider all communication channels – newsletters and emails are common ways to communicate with your employees across organizations; thankfully, the world of technology has provided more ways to communicate than ever before. Use the technology that’s going to most connect with your people. Is it a tweet, a Slack message, or an internal communication platform? Bringing awareness to taboo and sensitive topics means communication is vital! Meaningful conversations and the use of the communication platforms that your employees will respond to go hand in hand.
3. Inform employees of resources – wellness programs and particularly mental well-being programs in organizations have increased over the past year. These resources and other tools that help educate and inform availability and accessibility are key to ongoing education. Ensuring employees know what resources are available to support them and where they can find tools if needed. It sounds like a no-brainer, yet with topics such as mental health that already have a stigma, bringing awareness to where resources can be found is helpful. This includes ensuring front-line management is aware of these resources so they can readily share them with employees accordingly.
4. Keep the conversation going – consider opportunities where leaders are leading initiatives to keep the conversation going around mental health. They could be quarterly conversations or monthly fireside chats in which employees can participate. These are great opportunities to help strengthen a culture of safety around mental health. Creating a sense of normalcy helps to create trust and allows employees to engage in these conversations regularly.
The past year has shown our well-being as humans go far beyond the physical, and now more than ever, we need organizations and leaders to ensure we’re offering support that caters to the wholeness of an individual.
Our mental and emotional health needs to be nourished and nurtured regularly, not just when stressed.
As a leader, which of the above stands out as an action you can take starting today? What does awareness of mental health look like in your organization?
I’d love to know in the comments! Remember, you don’t have to have all the answers. You just need to show you care and lead by example.
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