How can you push the topic of mental health forward in your workplace? Walk your talk. Many organizations approach mental health passively rather than actively. We need to think about the message that sends to our team and how it contributes to culture. For example, putting posters up on a bulletin board versus having real conversations verbally, face-to-face: two different things. If we’re going to start getting real about mental health it means authenticity, vulnerability and practising what we preach. Here are a few simple ideas to help you lead the way in your workplace:
1. Model work/life balance
Gone are the days of “Do as I say, not as I do” leadership – we know it just doesn’t work. Like it or not, your team places far more weight on your actions than your words. If promoting work/life balance is a value for your organization on paper, everybody needs to “buy in” in order for it to permeate the culture. Simply tellingyour teammates that you believe it’s important and encouraging them to make time for their own self care won’t cut it. They need to see you in action, leaving work on time most days, taking your breaks, acknowledging that it’s not always easy to juggle work and personal life… but making it a priority to try.
2. Voice your struggles
It’s OK to have an off-day. Allowing yourself to be a (fallible) human is one of the most valuable things you can do both for your own mental wellbeing and to contribute to a culture that honours vulnerability. We all have ups and downs, and sharing that you’re no exception gives others a sense of permission to acknowledge their own challenges. Exposing our own imperfections is where real connections are born. Don’t be afraid to say you’re not OK if that’s the truth.
3. Use the resources
Have you ever used your organization’s Employee and Family Assistance Program? If not, tap in to it yourself to gain firsthand insight into what it’s all about. This will allow you to be specific and authentic when you present it as a resource to an employee who’s struggling, so you can offer something more meaningful than, “I think there’s a 1-800 number you can call”. Sharing with your colleagues that you’ve used the resources available within your organization and/or community can help to break down walls created by the stigma linked to needing help for your mental health.
It’s time to do more than just talk about mental health: challenge yourself to take action and inspire sustainable positive change in your workplace.
Thanks for reading! See you next time, my friends.
Elizabeth Eldridge is a Psychological Health & Safety Consultant based in southern New Brunswick, Canada. In addition to frequent keynote speaking and corporate training on mental health she is the owner/operator of Arpeggio Health Services, Atlantic Canada’s largest provider of public mental health trainings. Learn more at elizabetheldridge.com, summitcorporatewellness.com and arpeggiohealthservices.com.