Times of uncertainty challenge us – they throw us off balance, not knowing which way is up and which way is down. Covid-19 has certainly been one of those times. Every aspect of our lives has been impacted by the pandemic – our relationships, our jobs, our finances, our beliefs. And let’s admit it…it has been hard mentally to process. Thankfully, we are starting to see a light at the end of this very dark tunnel.

To make it through the most challenging days, one needs to dig up all the resiliency, perseverance, and grit they have. Some days that can be easy, but not so much on others. Our mental health has suffered. In fact, the surge of mental health issues has been labeled the “second pandemic”. Prior to Covid-19, real discussions about the importance of mental health – and transparency of such in the workplace – were starting to unfold. Creating a safe place for people to voice these struggles without fear of judgement. When you look at the data, 1 in 5 adults have a diagnosable mental illness and 50% of people will experience a mental health condition at some point in their lifetime.

So, how does mental health impact your business? And more importantly, how can you as a leader be an advocate for those who struggle behind close doors? Mental health affects every one of us from time to time, in different ways and for different reasons. As a leader, you are uniquely positioned to steer and promote the conversation.

Become an Advocate

When we change the way we talk about mental health, amazing things can happen. Years ago (and even still now, but improving), the stigma around mental health was real. People just didn’t talk about it because they were ashamed of their circumstance, scared of losing their job, or being seen as less than capable. Today, sharing your story is an effective way to connect and engage in a thoughtful dialog around mental health… and it is a great way for YOU become an advocate for others. When someone struggling hears “I have been there, and this is how I was able to overcome.” – the stigma falls and real connection begins.

Change the Conversation

As a leader, you have a responsibility to create an open, inclusive, and safe environment that allows people to bring their authentic selves to work. When employees feel authentic, it can lead to better performance, engagement, and employee retention. Ask how your employees are doing mentally – and then listen and relate if you can. If they are struggling, see if there is anything you can move off their plate, provide new resources, or simply ask how you can be helpful? Your job is not to fix them, it is to support them. A simple conversation can make all the difference.

Develop Your Emotional Intelligence – And Help Your Team Do The Same

Leading others to recognize and communicate about their own mental health starts with you. One of the best things you can do is take a look at yourself and your ability to recognize and regulate your emotions. Increasing our emotional intelligencenot only enables us to respond better to outside challenges, but it makes us better listeners, better advocates, and better colleagues.

Mental health challenges are nothing new. However, the pandemic has brought them to the forefront with many experiencing struggles like never before. Organizations and leaders who challenge stigmas and stereotypes around mental health will not only have healthier employees who show up and give their best, but they will have a healthier company for it in the long run.

Looking to change the conversation and become a better leader to your team during times of crisis? Head on over to our website to download our eBook on Leading Teams. If your organization is looking for a new perspective in these unprecedented times, I encourage you to contact my team and I at East Tenth Group today.