Why leaders need to open up about their mental health

Creating an environment of support encourages employees to speak up

Why leaders need to open up about their mental health

When leaders are open about their own mental health, workers are empowered to talk more freely about their personal struggles, a new global study showed.

Creating an environment of support encourages employees to feel comfortable speaking up, and produces other positive effects at work, according to research from Ipsos MORI for Teladoc Health.

READ MORE: Does your CEO need a mental health check-up?

Almost half of respondents (45%) said they would be more likely to reach out for help if there were more honest and transparent conversations about mental health in the workplace, while more than a third (38%) feel they would become more productive if there were better support systems in place.

How can employers help the ‘quiet ones’?
Employees, according to the Ipsos study, want two things: greater education about mental health and greater mental health care support

The majority of people (71%) – who have struggled with mental and emotional issues in the past and have chosen to seek help – recommend having access to professional mental health support in the workplace. Making use of employer-sponsored services, they said, has been one of the most pivotal steps to helping them cope.

READ MORE: How to have difficult conversations around mental health comfortably

But four in five workers (82%) who are known to have a mental health condition still prefer to keep their diagnosis private. How then can managers support those perceived as the ‘quiet ones’?

Employers can support staff by sponsoring remote mental health care services as an alternative.

The Ipsos researchers found: “43% of respondents who selected stigma as a reason for not confiding in someone at work want remote forms of mental health care.”

A 2017 study, published in the Acta Informatica Medica journal, also showed digital/online services to be a viable form of mental health care support.

“Due to the high costs of conventional mental health care, there has been a rise in the application of web-based technologies in recent years,” wrote researcher Mostafa Langarizadeh and associates.

“Currently, telemental health care has multiple capabilities and technologies for providing effective interventions to patients with various mental illnesses.”

The healthcare industry, they observed, is moving towards monitoring systems, patient’s self-supervision, computer-mediated therapy and instructional videos.

By opening up channels of support – both in the workplace and the privacy of an employee’s home – employers and health partners are able to promote a continuing conversation on mental health.

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