Since March, clients have asked me to write blogs about stress, burnout, anxiety, the attributes of a healthy workplace or what to do if someone is suicidal and how to distinguish typical day-to-day stress from severe stress, and at what point does stress become a crisis. They have sent me emails asking how do we come out of this a better leader, organization, and person, what if everyone wants to work remotely, what do I do if someone refuses to wear a mask in the office, how can we cope with so many changes and what do we do when everything in our lives seems ambiguous.
We see friends, co-workers, and families were worn down and overloaded. People are tired and many of us are feeling the effects of cultural fatigue. Emotions are frayed. When the pandemic hit, our lives became uncertain. Mental health experts have reported an increase in depression and anxiety. Lately, my clients have been asking how to strengthen their commitment to the mental health and well being of their colleagues. They are compassionate leaders who do not want to stand by and do nothing. What can they do to make things better?
Last month Sun Life Financial held a forum with their CEOs, presidents, and C-suite executives to underscore their commitment and responsibility to support the mental health of their employees. Jacques Goulet, President, Sun Life Canada, and Lumino Health, said, “As leaders of some of Canada’s largest workplaces, we have the responsibility to act. We must set the tone from the top and ensure our organizations are psychologically safe.
” So where do you begin if you have the same commitment as Sun Life to your employees’ mental health?
The first step is to create dialogues with your leaders about what it means to make mental health a priority. Next, you need to figure out how you will measure your success. If you’re not a
mental health organization, I suggest that you consult with a mental health expert first. (If you’re a financial institution you wouldn’t hire social workers to run your audits.) Get the right
players on your team. Sun Life, for example, partnered with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health for their forum.
Here are a few ideas to start your conversations about how to look out for your colleagues. It’s the first step. The next step is strategizing how to transform your knowledge and insights into actions.
1. How do we define mental health?
2. What conversations do we need to have with our colleagues about their well being?
3. What resources do we provide for our employees’ success and mental health?
4. Do we have reasonable performance expectations?
5. How do we promote a genuine work-life balance?
6. What do we do to personally show our colleagues we appreciate them? How often does that happen?
7. How do we show compassion? What are the examples?
8. What do we do to inspire our employees?
9. What do we need to do more of to support our employees’ mental health?
10. What additional resources such as wellness classes, workshops, employee assistance programs, mental health consultants, and therapy resources do we have available in our organization?
By DENNIS MORRIS, MSW, CEO
Why choose INSTITUTE OF RESPECT?
The services Dennis Morris offers draw on his 30 years of experience helping clients cultivate and strengthen their leadership – as a psychotherapist, senior leader, executive coach, mediator, and educator. What sets him apart from other consultants is his expertise as a psychotherapist and VP of Clinical Programs in behavioral health before becoming an executive coach for business and academic leaders. Clients appreciate the professionalism he brings to the table, derived from the combination of his clinical background and his business consulting experience in corporate, academic, and nonprofit arenas. For a complete bio, visit www.instituteofrespect.com.
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