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Blog > 5 Strategies for Leaders to Improve Mental Health at Work

5 Strategies for Leaders to Improve Mental Health at Work

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Your mental health plays a big role in the workplace. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention details, poor mental health (including stress) can negatively impact employees’ job performance, productivity, engagement, communication, and overall daily function. Additionally, employees with poor mental health result in high health care costs for the company (even higher than the health care costs for those with more obvious health risks, such as smoking or obesity) and, as a Harvard Business Review article noted, poor mental health leads to increased attrition.

Mental Health Awareness Month serves as an ideal time to acknowledge and address the detrimental effects of mental health challenges in the workplace. Organizational leaders must foster a culture that recognizes the mental health struggles of their team members and seeks to mitigate them.

Wondering how to begin? Executive coaching emerges as a vital tool in the implementation of mental health initiatives. Here are four highly endorsed strategies from Arootah’s experts to guide you on this journey.

Strategy 1: Cultivate an Open Dialogue About Mental Health

The same Harvard Business Review article linked above noted that there is now a high prevalence of mental health challenges across all organizational levels, with more than three-fourths of survey respondents reporting at least one symptom of poor mental health. However, these team members are talking about their mental health at work, and that’s a good thing. Cultivating an open dialogue leads to reduced stigma, which can then lead to more widespread treatment.

As such, and as a leader on your team, take the first steps to begin these conversations in your organization. Conduct regular mental health check-ins. Implement a mental health awareness program. Company-wide initiatives like Mental Health Mondays or employee-led mental health advocacy groups can further encourage open discussions. To ensure all your leadership is on the same page, offer training for managers on mental health literacy and communication.

Even just simple conversations can help. As Arootah’s Director of Executive and Leadership Coaching, Amy Tuccio, says, “To foster a supportive work environment, leaders must check in and understand what’s going on with their team through open and regular communication. One-on-one and team conversations build trust and safety to be able to talk about needs and support, including what increases efficiency and productivity for a team member and what lowers stress and creates an environment where they can thrive at work. Knowing that people have different lived experiences creates greater awareness that team members have different needs, and changes can be made to support them.”

Strategy 2: Foster Mindfulness Practices

Studies have shown that mindfulness practices — including meditation, mindfulness walks, etc., for even short periods — have been proven to increase resiliency, decrease anxiety and depression, and improve memory and learning.

Therefore, integrating mindfulness into your team’s culture is a worthwhile consideration. Promote the practice of taking a few moments for mindfulness at the beginning of meetings or offer your employees access to mindfulness and meditation apps. These subtle shifts can contribute to reducing stress and enhancing the overall well-being of your employees.

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Strategy 3: Provide Mental Health Education and Coaching

You wouldn’t make any business decision without the proper data, so why would you attempt to improve employee mental health without all the valuable information? Mental health education and coaching can help you and all your teams (especially leadership) better understand their needs and how to fulfill them.

Consider investing in one-on-one health coaching as part of your employees’ healthcare benefits, and invest in executive coaching for your leaders, to help them better understand their own and their teams’ mental health. The World Health Organization recommends that management undergo training specifically to help them communicate better with team members regarding mental health, and to help them recognize and respond to employees experiencing mental health distress.

Strategy 4: Integrate Coaching to Foster Mental Health Leadership

Finally, it’s essential to weave coaching into the fabric of your leadership teams’ daily activities, ensuring that every key player becomes an advocate for mental health within the organization. Executive coaching is a powerful resource that arms leaders with the necessary competencies to oversee their mental health and subsequently nurture the mental well-being of their teams.

As you search for the right executive coach to assist your team, look for someone who offers a dual focus on leadership development and mental health awareness. After selecting a coach who aligns well with your organization’s needs, encourage your leaders to commit to ongoing coaching sessions to solidify their role as mental health proponents.

The Bottom Line

Leadership extends beyond the pursuit of meeting targets and enhancing revenue; it encompasses the acknowledgment of the unseen challenges that accompany achievement. Picture an environment where mental well-being is a cornerstone of leadership tactics, and where each dialogue has the potential to offer support.

During this Mental Health Awareness Month, we invite you to discover the impactful potential of transformation, beginning with those at the helm. Arootah executive coaches are ready to facilitate this change. Sign up for a complimentary introductory call to learn how we can support you.

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Disclaimer: This article is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be and should not be taken as professional medical, psychological, legal, investment, financial, accounting, or tax advice. Arootah does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or suitability of its content for a particular purpose. Please do not act or refrain from acting based on anything you read in our newsletter, blog or anywhere else on our website.

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