Making Mental Health Just a Thing We do at Work

Last week, I had the honor of talking about Suicide Prevention Day with Tiffany Werhner on her show. At some point in the conversation, we were talking about using your employee resources for mental health, your EAP, for example, and how we would hope that companies right now would be encouraging that. I know mine is, and I’m glad to see that.

I mentioned a little tip I had seen in a few places about how to make mental health less stigmatized in the workplace, which was to put your therapist appointments on your calendar, especially if you’re in management. Make it “just something I do”, instead of a big massive secret. This morning, while doing my coffee and news reading to start my day I came across this article that I think takes it even further, and which I want to share with you.

4 Things Leaders Should Be Doing Right Now to Boost Mental Health

The article starts out with the obvious:

Start by openly discussing mental health

And then the next three things, I honestly think are tied back to that. Open communication among your team should be a no-brainer. Set the expectations, explain what they are responsible for, and let them find the best way to accomplish that. Giving them a screen break? Of course! Maybe every meeting or discussion doesn’t need to be a video call. It can be a phone call while sitting outside, or just away from our screens for 30 minutes. And then, actually unplug. Set that example. Understand that when you send emails at 11:00PM, or 5:00AM, or regularly take calls while on vacation, you’re setting the example that this is what “work” looks like to you. Set a better example.

Going back to what I was saying earlier about calendars. What if we could normalize your employees seeing the times you really do unplug. What if, instead of just seeing that email late a night, I also saw that you were catching up because you had set time aside to go see your kid’s games earlier that day? Or, you had taken the whole day to unplug tomorrow and wanted to get some information communicated for folks while you were out? And, in the cause of open communication, you also laid out in the email that you expected people to respond tomorrow, during their work day, not right away?

Can you see how this is totally different?

Understand that, as a leader, you set the tone. you can encourage your people to take advantage of the EAP all you want, but if you never unplug, and never show any concern for your own mental health, they will follow you right down that path. You have the opportunity to do something differently, and truly care for yourself, and your employees.

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