5 Ways Leader Can Boost Mental Wellness at Work

If you wake up in the morning and feel feverish, you don’t think twice about dialing your boss to call in sick. 

But imagine, you wake up and you don’t feel like getting out of bed and you don’t know why. 

Would you still make that call?

Mental well-being is often hidden from plain sight. It morphs easily making it harder to recognize it. When things aren’t going our way and we don’t feel at optimum, many of us may not acknowledge it or pay heed to it. This is doubly challenging when we have to notice it in others.

As leaders, it is time to shine a light on those dark spots and address them proactively. Mental wellness is a shared responsibility for the overall wellbeing of the organization.

A lack of optimum mental health costs the global economy $1 trillion in lost productivity, with over 300 million people suffering from depression. 

A recent survey revealed that 36% of Indian employees are suffering from mental health issues and 50% are worried about an uncertain future due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

WHO also states that the mental health workforce in India is not efficient and there is a dire shortage of mental health specialists in the country. According to the numbers, 56 million Indians suffer from depression & 38 million Indians suffer from anxiety disorders. 

These numbers are shocking but we don’t talk about it. 

Consider this for a moment: If these numbers represented physical illnesses like diabetes or liver failures – would we acknowledge them more openly? 

As a leader, how can you boost mental wellness at work?

  1. Watch out for unusual behaviors – When you notice something unusual like a punctual person consistently late for meetings, or a regular or prompt employee taking too many breaks; this can be an indicator of stress. Though it may not be an alarming situation yet, it could very well be the starting point.
  2. Create Autonomy – Feeling powerless is one of the common complaints of those who battle mental health issues. Creating a sense of autonomy should be the primary goal for leaders. 
  3. Offer flexibility – It is important to show our team that work and life are parts of the same whole and that we understand that they do not compete with each other. Offering a flexible work policy could help employees better manage all aspects of their life with less pressure. 
  4. Build & display trust – Build psychological safety where teams feel safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of one another. 
  5. Build resilience – Building a strong reserve of resilience can come in handy on rainy days. Set your team up for your success by offering stress management and mindfulness workshops, resilience training, and personal coaching.

Investing in the emotional and mental well-being of your employees is not just a preventive measure but an invaluable psychological capital that could safeguard your organization’s mental health, employee retention, and productivity.