MENTAL HEALTH STARTS AT THE TOP – An Issue for Leadership
Business CEOs and leader need to be seen actively embracing mental health in the workplace. It was found that about 55% of workers believed management did not value mental health but when they did there was a dramatic drop in absenteeism. Apart from there being a big financial incentive for business (‘$2.30 return on $1 invested’ Safety Australia) there is also a legal requirement.
Recently I worked for Department of Human Services, where 3000 staff work in one building alone. I could see the stress everyone was working under. Although coun-selling service was offered, most didn’t attend because the fear of being judged or that it would affect their careers.
Fear of retribution was obvious from the top down. Staff would have needed to see management being counselling-clients first, before they would make a move. It seems that CEOs and management need to have their own breakdown before they get help. So it did not surprise me to see that most of the workers were dealing with their stress by either taking time off work, having addictions, suppressing or diverting the stress, or trying to manage it. Unfor-tunately none of these therapies create lasting benefits.
Having been a counsellor for 26 years I know what has really worked with my cli-ents and myself. At Real Is Best, our clients achieve fast, effective and lasting results by releasing their stress, naturally. We teach these stress release methods and du-plicate that into businesses/and large workforce. Key is that we get management/staff to release their own stress during the course. We then share all the techniques of stress release which they can apply with each other. After that it duplicates with all other staff.
While creating a mentally healthy workplace is everyone’s responsibility, mental health is a leadership issue. Organisational leaders play a critical role in driving policies and practices that promote mental health in the workplace. They have the capacity to positively influence workplace culture and management practices. This is best achieved by going and clearing their stress first. Change must start at the top.
Lara James with Michael Schmidt