Why organization leadership matters for employees' mental health

Why organization leadership matters for employees' mental health
Leaders have a profound impact on the mental health of your workforce.

Leadership at workplaces can catalyze the much-needed transformation in addressing the challenges of mental health.

They say that mental health issues are a fast-growing concern all over the world. One in five of us will suffer from a mental health problem in our lifetime. That’s a lot of people. There’s an urgent need to find solutions that help us manage this problem.

Among the various communities where mental health concerns are critical, the workplace perhaps is one of the most crucial spaces.

To improve the treatment rate (the percentage of people with mental illness who seek help from professionals) in mental health, the World Health Organization (WHO) has ten recommendations to make. Three of these recommendations go beyond seeking solutions in the clinical and services infrastructure. These three are:

  • Shift care away from institutions to community care
  • Educate the public
  • Involve family, community, and consumers

The WHO points out that it is not enough to look for solutions in ramping up the services infrastructure and providing more mental health professionals. It identifies the crucial role communities play in addressing issues of mental illness. Indeed, one of the most efficiently running communities today is our workplace. Organizations, employing millions in their workforce, are perhaps the most suited communities to play a constructive role in mental healthcare.

Moreover, the WHO, along with the World Bank, reveals that psychosocial issues would be one of the biggest contributors to disability-adjusted life years (DALY) (in other words, the burden of disease). Businesses and organizations are yet to assess the impact of mental illness on productivity.

There’s one more reason why organizations can be the best catalyst in improving the treatment rate of mental illness.

Today, the largest institution that provides support and care to those with mental illness is the family. It is an accepted norm in society that caregiving responsibility lies solely with the closest family members of people with mental illness. Between this layer of support and professional help, there is a chasm in society. This gap creates immeasurable challenges and hurdles for those with mental illness.

Workplaces, where people spend a good part of their life, are communities that have huge potential to reverse the adverse role society plays in supporting them.

However, since organizations are made of people who mimic the societal norms of stigmatizing and excluding people with mental illness, sensitizing them and educating them on mental health issues and equipping the workforce with tools to handle co-workers' emotional crises can pave the way for a transformative future.

Where do we begin?

Leadership has perhaps the biggest influence over the workforce and directs and transforms the organization. Since we are talking about the workplace as a community space where people begin to reverse their roles in mental healthcare, leadership is the only catalyzing force that can affect such a large-scale change.

Any change in the perceptions of mental healthcare and attitude toward people with mental illness in the workforce can only take place when the leadership drives the intention for this change down the organization.

It is the leadership that is required to understand the need for this shift in mindset among its workforce, both from the organization-benefitting angle and the social wellness angle.

Indeed, as part of its mental healthcare strategy, access to services must be made available to the workforce. They must be able to reach out to mental health professionals when the need arises. That is the first tangible step that could be taken. However, we have repeatedly seen that it won’t be enough. Mere access to services does not guarantee a higher treatment rate.

It needs to be understood that we cannot find solutions for mental health by looking into the past where solutions for physiological issues have been successful. Mental health issues have unique nuances because the social environment has a strong ramification on the decisions people with mental health issues and their caregivers make. We need to find solutions that are far more inclusive and socially transformative.

Leaders can communicate to their workforce that making the workplace supportive for those with mental health issues must be everyone’s responsibility. The leadership needs to send home the message that when it comes to mental health, each employee is a stakeholder. It is only in the presence of an inclusive environment that people with mental health problems would be encouraged to make the right decisions.

Mental healthcare strategies at organizations must be seen as a social inclusion opportunity. Moreover, creating the right social infrastructure for those with mental illnesses must begin at the community level. And, what better community to start this process than workplaces?

To make this transformation easier and hassle-free, Manah brings you its choicest offering – The Wellbeing Champions program.

Your leaders, managers, and volunteers from the employees can get trained by our experienced therapists on emotional first-aid, how to watch out for mental health distress signs, and how to understand and help those struggling with it.

Training managers, leaders, and those in close contact with your employees and making them their confidantes is a great way to demonstrate your concern for your employees' wellbeing.

By having leaders avail of the Champions training, your organization sets the tone for an understanding, judgment-free, compassionate culture that's considerate of the people undergoing mental health issues.

Your organization's culture flows from the top down, and slowly you'll witness your employees taking up the Champions training, creating an internal support system for each other, and making a huge difference in the lives of people who aren't willing to seek professional help.

Are you ready to create this positive chain reaction for your employees' wellbeing? If you are, reach out to us today for the Wellbeing Champions training program by filling out this form.

Get ready to start a massive transformation in your company.