In the world we live in, leaders must care about their team with mental health too. In the past, mental health was a very taboo subject everywhere—in the home, in schools, and especially in the “professional” workplace. The common misconception was that, if someone is experiencing mental health issues, they must be unstable, or volatile, or of unsound mind.
This has all come into extreme focus in the last year and a half with the COVID-19 pandemic. According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, “at the end of March and in early April, [a] nonprofit organization, Mind Share Partners, conducted a study of global employees in partnership with Qualtrics and SAP. We found that the mental health of almost 42% of respondents had declined since the outbreak began.”
Check in with your people. Show them that you care by consistently checking up on them in meaningful ways. Try to understand their context and the struggles they might be facing. Uncover those, and offer support in those areas. Just knowing that you’re there for them can make a huge difference.
Be honest about the situation. As a leader, it’s typically a no-no to show fear to your team, but in cases like these, it helps your team when you as a leader can be vulnerable. Be honest about the struggles you’re facing as a company, and don’t sugarcoat things. However, make sure you infuse a spirit of hope into your messages, so that you’re “shooting from the hip” doesn’t turn into being a cynical realist.
Be honest about YOUR feelings. You’re not impervious to emotions, and you’re certainly not impervious to stress. Show your team that you’re a real person, too, who is having difficulty in facing these issues. There is solidarity in knowing that people aren’t alone in suffering. It doesn’t make it hurt any less, but it helps to let your people know you’re in it together.
Offer resources to your employees. Include in the health insurance plan options for mental healthcare providers. This also helps with the next point.
Open the dialogue. Let your people know it’s alright not to feel okay, and that there is no shame or stigma in that. Let everyone in the company know that resources are readily available to them and that they’re not alone.
With these strategies, we can each try to be a little bit of a better, more empathetic boss, and make sure our employees are taken care of in their mental health.