What is the leader’s responsibility with mental health challenges in the workplace? Although mental health issues may not originate because of work, they certainly manifest themselves within the workplace. Burnout is a phenomenon that happens at work and it can and does lead to depression symptoms. In fact, many counselors and psychologists are diagnosing burnout.
Statistically we know that mental health issues have skyrocketed with COVID-19. This study from the APA captures some of these results and provides resources for employers. One of the main findings is that leaders need to be open about their own mental health process. This sets the tone in the organization. You may be surprised how this changes the environment at work.
It first starts with you owning your mental health. In other words, how can you expect to support those at work if you have unresolved issues? These issues find their way to the workplace and influence your leadership. Leaders bring their stories into the situation all the time. You can own this for yourself and have more impact.
We know too that the best managers must be great motivators by providing vision and purpose. They are also assertive and most importantly they build relationships. When there is reciprocity at work – a give and a take – employees are less likely to burnout and therefore are less likely to become depressive.
Let’s evaluate one of the central theories of behavior – it is called field theory. This theory, coined by Lewin, states that behavior is the function of the person and environment in which the person is in. If the workplace, is dysfunctional or toxic it could lead to burnout or mental health issues.
Consider the following appreciative questions as you reflect on the need for a truly mentally healthful organization –
- How would you evaluate the reciprocity your organization instills in your culture?
- Where do you see signs of people thriving at work?
- What are the characteristics of the best managers in your company?
- What opportunities exist to support those with mental health challenges at work?
- How can you address the 3 factors of burnout to mitigate depressive occurrences? – Work Demands, Lack of Work Control and Lack of Meaning.
The leader has an opportunity to influence the environment at work to improve the workplace.