Cultivating a mentally healthy workplace is a collaborative effort. It demands intention, commitment, and support at all levels of the company. Leaders set the tone. Here are some actions leaders can take to normalize the conversation around mental health:
- Leaders can talk openly about mental health and about its importance to overall health.
- They can share their own personal stories, and let others know it’s okay to share theirs, too.
- They can assess their own stress levels, and when stress is overwhelming them, they can ease off on themselves – and on the others around them, too.
- They can seek help when they need it, and they can offer help to others when it is needed.
- They can listen. And when they see workplace stress levels growing, they can take steps to reduce that stress.
- They can encourage people to make use of help resources, like EAPs or employee support groups.
- They can arrange for small perks and programs that feed both the body and the spirit of their employees.
- To improve their own emotional health and well-being and the mental health of everyone in the workplace, good leaders can make the effort to meet their employees more than halfway. They can engage in open dialogue about ideas to improve workplace culture and mental health.
- They can accept that no one and nothing is perfect. They can make it clear that they are willing to try new things and discard those – even ones dear to them – that haven’t gotten the response for which they hoped.
If leadership is interested in a formal commitment, One Mind at Work offers the Charter to Transform Mental Health, a charter that outlines the principles company leaders should follow to commit to creating mentally healthy workplaces.
Just as managerial style influences workplace culture, leadership style is crucial to expressing the values and character of the company to its workforce and consumers. Is the leader actively engaged as a servant, mentor, and advocate for everyone who contributes to the success of the company? Or is the leader more passive, more self-directed, or too short on giving credit and praise when it is due?
Research shows that leaders who adopt an engaging leadership style and who work continuously to understand and learn from their employees and their community are the ones who foster engagement and productivity. When leaders dedicate the time and resources to assess workplace culture and measure the effectiveness of their workplace mental health efforts, then meaningful, effective, and productive changes will result.