Can leaders help ease employees' mental health struggles?

Many are 'suffering in silence'

Can leaders help ease employees' mental health struggles?

Recently, professionals surveyed earlier this year said the pandemic has been contributing to their ‘poor’ mental health, with one in four sharing that they’re struggling with anxiety and depression.

Read more: One in four workers struggle with mental health issues

Furthermore, a study by Samaritans reported that 2020 saw the highest number of suicide cases in eight years. The number of cases for youths and adults, or those under 59 years old, saw a rise by seven percent from the year before. Findings showed that it was likely due to the isolation and psychological distress caused by the pandemic. Is there anything that leaders can do to help employees?

How to support staff struggling with mental health

At a recent panel event discussing men’s mental health by AmCham Hong Kong (AmCham), leaders shared small steps firms can take to support staff through tough times. Brian Henderson, former C-suite leader and founder of Whole Business Wellness Ltd believes employers have an obligation to raise awareness and educate staff on mental health and well-being. He shared that in his days as a top rank exec, he somewhat knew that he had symptoms of burnout and depression, “but I didn’t know that I really needed to act on them and get some help”.

Read more: Men’s mental health: It’s time to talk

Yes, you should help create a safe space for staff to share their experiences and role model practices that you want seen in employees, but there are also tools available that can help individuals as well as companies evaluate their level of resilience – especially whether they’re thriving or struggling. Such assessment tools can help individuals hone in on specific areas of vulnerability, and suggest what you can do about it, be it simple, practical self-care habits or more serious solutions.

Sometimes what can help manage your well-being is firstly, an acknowledgement of your struggle, and next, an adoption of “simple stuff” that can be built into your day, like mindfulness, breathing exercises or going outdoors, he said. “All of those little steps, if you stick with them early enough, because you actually knew you needed to pay attention to this thing [can] avoid you ending up where I ended up,” he said. “I didn’t take the steps at the right time and there was a long, long time to recover.”

Read more: Are your employees suffering in remote work?

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