“This is not the kind of behaviour you would want your employees to have. So, as leaders, you need to engage with your employees and talk to them about their mental health.”

Hi, there. It’s Kerstin Jatho here, a transformational coach who shifts people from languishing to flourishing. In this video, I want to talk to you about the sharp call to focus on mental health in the working environment.

And especially for leaders, mental health has always been an important aspect. However, it remains lost in the workplace. With the pandemic having come in, it has become the primary focus for many leaders. Statistics have shown that since the pandemic has come in, mental illnesses have increased by 41%, burnout being one of them.

I want to impart a story with you. In 2009, while I was working in corporate, I fainted at home. I had to go and see a doctor and we had to do a battery of tests for a whole day. One of them included putting little measurements on my head or on my hair. And I had to wear them for 24 hours. They needed to establish what caused the fainting. I was too embarrassed to call work and tell them about this. So, I called in and later we established that it was some type of burnout. But I was too ashamed to tell my leaders that I had suffered from burnout. This is not the kind of behaviour you would want your employees to have. So as leaders, you need to engage with your employees and talk to them about their mental health.

And I understand that you feel uncomfortable about it. Perhaps you’re dealing with it right now, or you feel you do not have enough context to even engage in that conversation. I mean, I know it’s a big topic, or you feel that it really is the function of the human resources department to engage with it. However, it is your responsibility to start conversations with your teams and individuals to understand when they do need you. You do not need to solve it all. However, you need to see the warning signs and then support them further.

So, it is about having one-on-one meetings with your team to try and understand how they operate at their best, what are triggers that would possibly result in them going into a mental disease process? How do they support themselves? How do they remain in balance? How are they working on it? How can you support them? And if they are in a process, where they do need help, what kind of help would they need? Those are simple conversations you can have with your team. However, you do need to build trust with them and you have to come from a place of absolute integrity that you do care and that you want to assist them.

There are three steps that are really important here.

1. Must have the courage to embrace mental health conversations with your team.

2. Organisational services

Organisations have to have services and options where employees can go and have anonymous services or counselling offered.

3. Employees to participate

As an employee you have to also participate here and play your part and engage. It needs to be a triad of a relationship. So mental health is very much a leader’s agenda and something to take exceptionally seriously. If your employees are suffering from mental disease, it costs the company a lot of money over and above that you’re not fulfilling your leadership role, which is to bring out the best in people.

Over to you for sharing your comments and experiences.

How are you addressing mental health conversations with your team?

About the Author: Kerstin Jatho

Kerstin is the senior transformational coach and team development facilitator for 4Seeds Consulting. She is also the author of Growing Butterfly Wings, a book on applying positive psychology principles during a lengthy recovery. Her passion is to develop people-centred organisations where people thrive and achieve their potential in the workplace. You can find Kerstin on LinkedIn, Soundcloud, YouTube and Facebook.

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