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A Practical Way for Business Leaders to Prioritize Mental Health and Inclusion

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Nothing has brought employee mental health to the attention of business leaders as much as the COVID-19 pandemic. Writer Naz Beheshti called this heightened awareness of mental health the “silver lining” of the pandemic.

Beheshti said: “There is first evidence that this reduction in stigma has generally made people more comfortable open to mental health. According to a 2021 survey by the NAMI (National Federation of Mental Illness Families), respondents 52% have been more open to others about mental health since the pandemic began. “

As more employees share their experiences with mental health and its impact on their work, the requirements for action from leaders are increasing at the same time. Leaders cannot sit down and listen to employees. Action is required. For leaders, this means focusing on the mental health of the individual and building a psychologically safe and inclusive workplace for employees.

Start from yourself

“Burnout Syndrome” was a popular buzzword as thousands of employees quit their jobs in search of a better balance between work and life through the recent “mass layoff.” However, it is important for leaders to remember that there is an equal risk of overwork.

According to Development Dimensions International’s 2021 Global Leadership Forecast, 60% of leaders feel exhausted by the end of their work. In addition, 26% of the same leaders said they expected to leave the company within a year. Leaders who don’t care about their mental health run the risk of weakening the mental health of the entire team.

“If executives want their employees to prioritize mental health, they need to do the same in a very visible way,” said Adam Weber, SVP of Community at 15 Five. “It’s one thing to encourage people to take a vacation for a day of treatment or mental health, but most leaders haven’t yet taken the next step in doing it themselves in a transparent way. . “

Modeling self-care is a great solution for leaders looking to improve their mental health. Certified Executive Coach Erin Urban suggests that leaders take a walk during the lunch break or take the time to fully celebrate the achievements achieved at work. She also encourages you to take the time to breathe and practice mindfulness.

Pharmacist Sanjib Nandi discovered the power of mindfulness and meditation at an important time in his life. Currently, Nandy’s mission as an author and speaker is to release individual negativity and promote self-control.

After releasing his book The Man with Zero Talent in 2021, Nandy created LUVO, a completely free self-care and mindfulness coaching app. The app includes other wellness features such as fluid intake, sleep tracking, steps, mood check, and gratitude.

“Everyone wants health, happiness, and success, but fear stops us. I spend hours studying the brain, and while fear literally enlarges the amygdala, consistent attention Found that the amygdala could shrink within a few weeks. ”

Promotes diversity and inclusion

More employees are talking about mental health, but not everyone has a positive experience. This is mainly due to the lack of psychological safety in the workplace.

According to Center for Creative Leadership, “Psychological safety is the belief that you will not be punished or humiliated for talking about ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes.”

McKinsey researchers said: Psychological safety of the team. In addition, team leaders have the strongest impact on team psychological safety by setting the tone of the team’s climate through their actions. Still, only 43% of all respondents report a positive climate within the team. “

To create this environment, leaders need to be considerate and listen and learn how to respond. Mike Cogan, assistant counselor at the Care Counseling Center, said: Health symptoms. Leaders should always show empathy and understanding so that employees can feel that they can express their concerns about stressors in the workplace. “

Promotes diversity and inclusion

Leaders can build a psychologically safe corporate culture by prioritizing diversity and inclusion (D & I) initiatives. For example, in a 2021 study by Kerry Greenwood and Julia Annas, more than half of the respondents (up 13% from 2019) showed that mental health was a DEI issue.

After George Floyd’s death in 2020, the importance of inclusiveness became dramatically apparent. The Washington Post said: Floyd’s death has become public. It represents more than 1.4 million people. “

However, African Americans are not the only population that needs to be included. Garen Staglin, co-founder of OneMind, said: “Employees of diverse backgrounds have a lack of expressiveness, microaggression, unconscious prejudice, and other impacts on mental health and psychological safety in the workplace. You may face stressors. ”

Kerry Greenwood and Juira Annas said: “Demographics continue to play a strong role in workplace mental health, with young workers and historically undervalued groups still struggling most. Caregivers’ responses, like Millennial and Genzers. And members of historically undervalued groups, such as LGBTQ +, Black, and Latin respondents, are likely to leave the role of mental health and the corporate culture needs to support mental health. I think. Health. “

Fostering a culture of D & I not only helps employees’ mental health, but also has a positive impact on their business and employment.

All demographic survey respondents in the McKinsey survey showed that they should consider the level of inclusiveness of their organization when making career decisions.

Many employees across the United States appear to be actively seeking bold corporate action to support their investment in mental health and make them feel like they are all involved.