Mental health issues and stress can show up in issues sleeping, increases in eating or drinking alcohol/substance abuse, it is even known to worsen chronic conditions.
So mental health is always serious business but the pandemic now has everyone working from home, and further the recession has caused a greater concern about job security. As a leader staying on top of these issues can significantly impact how your business performs.
So employers and leaders need to recognise the increased responsibility of protecting their teams mental health as well as their own. Here are four ways to start that process.
Start by openly discussing mental health
Most empathetic leaders recognise that they have a key responsibility in helping employees achieve a healthier mental state. By continuing the dialogue to reduce any stigma associated with recognising symptoms and where possible providing opportunities for support such as access to professional counselling.
Reduce digital overload with analog tools
A recent report in workplace productivity (2020) found that 3 out of 4 people surveyed are experiencing digital overload. Access to pen and paper or even a whiteboard help individuals have a break from the screen.
Sketching and doodling are recognised at having significant cognitive benefits helping to improve your focus, stress levels and mental health.
According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology, doodlers find it easier to recall dull information (even 29 percent more) than non-doodlers, because the latter are more likely to daydream.
Time spent outside (take a walk around the block to clear your head) is always good at refreshing energy, reducing mental stress and stimulating the brain with positive endorphins.
Communicate, clearly and transparently
With employees facing higher levels of stress and many also concerned at the risk of potentially losing their jobs, managers and HR leaders need to ensure that they communicate with clarity and transparency about how the organisation is performing, the timeframe and steps to any planned changes.
Leaders need to talk to staff on a regular cadence, with honest safe and trusted messages, this is especially important during really tough conversations.
Unplug from your job responsibilities
Many of us are talking about Zoom fatigue, one of the best ways to decompress from the pressures of remote work is to build rituals into your day doing activities that are entirely offline.
Whether it is gardening, walking the dog or baking sour dough bread it does not matter as long as it gives you time away from the screen and time to defrag the brain.
- As a leader it is your responsibility to manage both your own and to actively support your team to manage their mental health.
- Mental health can have a significant cost on the business
- Unplugging and taking time out is a critical step, best built into daily and weekly rituals
Synopsis of an article from Inc. 4 Things Leaders Should Be Doing Right Now to Boost Mental Health by Marcel Schwantes Published 17th September 2020 https://www.inc.com/marcel-schwantes/4-things-leaders-should-be-doing-right-now-to-boost-mental-health.html and from The Atlantic The Cognitive Benefits of Doodling by Steven Heller Published 9th July 2015 https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/07/doodling-for-cognitive-benefits/398027/ and from Harvard Health The “thinking” benefits of doodling by Srini Pillay, MD https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-thinking-benefits-of-doodling-2016121510844