Are you in tune with your emotions enough, to know that you need to pause and take the day off or a mental health day? Due to the negative stigma attached to poor mental health, you may be hesitant to share this, because of the belief that an employer or fellow colleagues will think less of you.
Unfortunately, the consequences of employees and leaders going hard until they are on the verge of quitting or having a mental breakdown is real. The cost is expensive to both employees and employers.
Here are five tips to better deal with mental health in a workplace as a leader:
1. Create safe spaces – Psychological Safety
It’s important to create safe spaces for people to talk about their own challenges, past and present, without fear of being called “unstable” or passed up the opportunity to participate in the next big project or to be promoted. Employees shouldn’t fear that they will be judged or excluded if they open up about their mental health concerns.
2. Sharing personal struggles
Leaders can set the tone for this by sharing their own experiences or stories of other people who have struggled with mental health issues and received support and resumed successful careers. They should also explicitly encourage everyone to speak up when feeling overwhelmed or in need.
3. Monitor absenteeism trends and implement preventative measures
A good way to support and manage employees with mental health challenges is to prevent issues before they arise and reach a level of crisis. Crisis can include employee absences, although is not limited to.
4. Monitor “Presenteeism”
Mental health challenges at work can also present themselves in the form of absenteeism, whereby the employee is physically at work but not focused on their role, or their environment, respectively. Ensuring accountability doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be handled in a simple pulse survey or check-in on how the person is doing personally and at work to understand how people are doing now, in real-time, and over time.
5. Let employees know there is support to help them
Encourage employees to ask for help, when they are not coping. Offer resources and information sessions on this topic to help break the stigma. Research the available mental health support services (free and paid) locally in your area and share this with your employees. It could save you from losing a team member.
As much as you might like to return to the way things were, that likelihood seems grim. So let’s do our bit and use this opportunity to create safe spaces and mentally healthy workplace cultures.