The Importance of Mental Health for Leaders and Those Who Lead Them - (2023)

By: Dr. Victoria Rodriguez, LMSW, MPA

(Video) How Leaders Can Lift the Stigma of Mental Health | Tom Dutta | TEDxBearCreekPark

BeWELL Psicoterapia.Psychotherapy in New York.

The Importance of Mental Health for Leaders and Those Who Lead Them - (1)

After nearly a year of dealing with a global pandemic, months of political and social instability, and continued uncertainty, organizational leaders find themselves in a unique and challenging position to lead in a way that not only ensures organizational success, but also the physical development. , emotional and mental well-being of their teams. Leaders must recognize themeaning of your rolein creating a work environment that can have a positive or negative impact on the general physical and mental health of your employees.

OAmerican Psychological Association (APA)considers that the stress related to the pandemic will lead to a national mental health crisis that will continue for years after the pandemic; what does the importance of leaders mean to normalize investment in mental health to guarantee the well-being of employees and optimal productivity. A leader's role is, first, to ensure they remain emotionally healthy to lead successfully, and second, to create a company culture that invests in the mental health of its employees that provides its team with the resources they need to do their jobs. success.

The importance of mental health in leadership

successful leadersthey have high emotional intelligence, the ability to communicate effectively and authentically, model positive behaviors, build connections, think outside the box, and adapt to the needs of those they lead. Where these skill sets have historically helped organizational success and increased employee satisfaction, leaders must now think outside the box and link them together to create an environment that promotes mental wellness and general well-being.

(Video) The Importance of Leadership Talking About Mental Health in the Workplace | #MakeChange | Salesforce

Research conducted byThe Harris Poll for the APAfound that nearly 8 in 10 adults (78%) cited the pandemic as a major source of stress, while 42% of employed people reported high levels of stress. Leaders, like those they lead, are stressed. This season, the leaders may feel overwhelmed,anxious,depressant, burned out and exhausted by the stressors they are trying to manage in their own lives and in the workplace. Additionally, those who work in the helping professions may experience higher levels of compassion fatigue. Leaders are in a place where they not only have to manage their stress level effectively; they need to manage the stress of others and lead through it all. This dual management can add additional stress and impact a leader's bandwidth and ability to lead clearly and effectively.

Ways to take care of your mental health as a leader

Before leaders can begin to promote a mental health-oriented company culture, they must first take an honest look at their own mental well-being. As a leader, you cannot lead effectively if you are half empty. You can't effectively give empathy to others if you can't give it to yourself. You must model the importance of investing in mental health and break its stigmas. If you're not taking care of your mental health, you won't be fully creating the space for others and modeling the behaviors necessary for your employees to want to invest in theirs. Use your emotional intelligence, use self-awareness, and recognize the importance of investing in your mental health.

Where every leader's individual journey can be different, given variations in work and life circumstances and skill sets, there are general things leaders can do to invest in and improve their mental health. To improve your mental health, as a leader you must:

  • Acknowledge your feelings and recognize when you need space.If something feels off, stress is high, or you feel drained, own up to it. Recognize when you need to step back and review your work-life balance to ensure you can continue to show up and lead your team effectively.
  • Know your trigger points.Recognizing trigger points stems deeply from self-awareness and seeing tendencies in entities in your routine or life that trigger additional anxiety. By recognizing these triggers, it is potentially easier to identify which coping strategies to implement to limit stress, manage burnout, and improve mental well-being.
  • Talk about your mental health.Leaders may realize that as leaders they must always be mentally strong and courageous. Where those are two traits that leaders can possess, leaders are human. Showing vulnerability and opening up about your mental health journey helps with individual healing and relationship building with employees who can identify with your authenticity and vulnerability.
  • Take care of yourself physically to ensure mental well-being—eat, sleep, move/exercise. Making sure your basic needs are met sets the stage for you to enter potentially stressful situations with more emotional bandwidth and mental resilience.
  • Prepare for success in your routines.Create healthy habits and boundaries. Determine what you can compensate for other leaders or team leaders. Share shareable work if your schedule doesn't allow you to do it all. Find responsible partners.
  • Have coping strategies to deal with feeling overwhelmed(eg, list of affirmations, meditation/prayer, breathing). Find strategies that work for you.
  • Do not withdraw or isolate yourself.Turn to friends, family or community. Ask for and accept help. Share your story and what's on your mind with people you trust.
  • Seek professional helpthrough individual therapy, group therapy, or support groups. Seeking a therapist is a strength, not a weakness.

The importance of leaders creating a healthy environment for those they lead

Employees struggling with mental health issues.they may be less productive, have higher absenteeism rates, make fewer contributions, and make worse decisions. Leaders must consider the health of their employees as an essential and necessary entity for the success of the company. When employees see the investment their leadership is making in their mental health, they can feel a greater sense of loyalty, respect, and trust toward the organization, further limiting stress and increasing productivity.

(Video) How leaders can protect their mental health and wellbeing

How to support mental health and create a healthy environment for those you lead

Studiesidentified health-specific leadership approaches that leaders can implement to improve mental health and create a healthy work environment for their employees. These health-specific leadership approaches include promoting health education and communication, guiding employees toward healthy behaviors, showing the importance of mental health, raising awareness, and including prevention and intervention resources.

Where each organization may have different needs and specialized interventions to fit their organization, there are general things leaders can do to invest andImprove the mental health of your employees.. To improve the mental health of your employees, as a leader you must:

  • break stigmas.Normalize speech and invest in mental health. Recognizing that everyone operates differently, use an empathic approach with your team and normalize what they may or may not experience. Start discussions in the workplace. Chat with your team and create open dialogues between team members. Talk about your own experiences. Model the behaviors you want your employees to follow when investing in their mental health.
  • Listen to your team.Create a space for people to talk about their mental health issues and concerns through log-ins, one-on-one conversations, or surveys. In these meetings and interactions, stay open and build connections. Don't make assumptions about your employees' problems or needs.
  • feedback tracking. Recognizing your employees' mental health trends can help you understand and assess where the problems lie and what resources might work best for your team. Follow-up will allow you to make sound decisions and develop plans that will work specifically for those you lead.
  • Provide resources.Get feedback to create and coordinate workplace mental health resources that employees can easily access. Examples include regular mental health checkups, ensuring employees have access to and coverage for therapy services, mental health workshops, or implementing an EAP program at your workplace. Resources can extend beyond those directly related to mental health and connect to areas that affect mental well-being, including ensuring that employees have enough space and time to do their work, are not overworked, do your PTO and that they feel they have the space to come to you freely with any concerns that may be affecting their health. Both breaking stigmas and providing resources empower employees to take action.

From a business perspective, investing in the emotional and mental health of your teams will drive greater organizational success. From a leadership perspective, it is the responsibility of the leader to create a positive and healthy work environment. He takes on that responsibility in a meaningful way for those he leads.

For more information, check out the replay of ourSeminar "The Importance of Mental Health in Leadership".


(Video) We All Have Mental Health

American Psychological Association. (2020). Stress in America: A National Mental Health Crisis. Obtained from:,faces%20is%20overwhelming%20to%20them.

Boehm, SA, Baumgartner, MK and Kreissner, LM (2016). The relationship between leadership and health: a comparison of general health-focused leadership approaches. Healthy at Work. Obtained from:,2008).

Bonnici, R. (2019).Business leaders need to be open about our own mental health.Psychology Today. Obtained from:

Eastwood, B. (2019).The five common qualities that all leaders have in common.Northeastern University Graduate Programs. Obtained from:

Greenwood, K. y Krol, N. (2020).8 ways managers can support employee mental health.Harvard Business Review. Recovered from:


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