Tackling Mental Health and Well-being at The Executive Level

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When in a high position in business, there are many unique pressures that are faced by these individuals. Not only does an executive often have to manage their own team, but they are also faced with pressure from those above them: their managers and seniors. 

This can cause many issues, especially if the individual in the executive position begins to reduce their work hours as a result of these additional mental health struggles (i.e., development of a mental illness) or quits their job entirely. 

This is why it is vital that these individuals seek help as soon as possible, or help is made available or evident to them immediately. 

Although there are treatments that have been tested and proven to reduce the struggles faced by executives relative to their mental health (1), there is still much research to be done into creating the optimal healthy workplace. 

What’s affecting the mental health of leaders?

Not every individual will be affected the same way by the pressures of being in a position of management or as an executive. 

However, there are some key features of this form of work that can influence mental health at work, including anxiety and anxious associations in general.

Some of these features are listed below:

  • Managing a large team – sometimes, when in charge of multiple individuals, all completing different work, the pressures of this can become too much and an individual may begin to slip in their standards of work, potentially leading to mental health issues
  • Pressure from higher authority – despite managing their own team, executives and managers often have their own managers to report to, as well, as feeding back on the progress of their whole team as well as themselves. This can cause additional stress when it comes to meeting strict deadlines and passing on key information 
  • Higher pay – sometimes, being paid more than their own team can be a conflict for a manager or an executive, and this may lead to guilty feelings. Sometimes, the feeling of doing the same work as those below them and set being paid more for it can cause a significant impact on the individual’s work ethic and well-being in the workplace

How CEOs and leaders can look after their own mental health

As well as receiving support from co-workers, management, and the HR department of the place of work, there are many steps that individuals can take to support themselves and support their mental health and the mental health challenges associated with this. 

For example, informing their own management of how they may be struggling is a great way to start to work towards a more positive experience at work, as well as potentially reducing specific duties or tasks that may be causing additional stress and pressure.

In addition to informing those at work, an individual must also remember that some of the best support can be found by those who are closest to them.

This can include friends and family who may not be aware of the current situation but who would be more than willing to help out when it comes to supporting the individual during their mental health struggles. 

The Role of Managers in Improving Mental Health in The Workplace

Mental Health

As those in the position above lower managers or executives, there is a responsibility (as with all employees) to look out for their colleagues. This could be something as simple as asking how someone is, all the way up to recommending and helping that individual get suitable care. 

Whether this individual approaches them directly, or if it is by the initiative taken by the senior colleague, help should be given where possible. 

In the case of burnout – a serious phenomenon in which an individual loses motivation and ability to work to their full potential (2) – those in positions above them should ensure that their workload is taken care of before they return or take up work again. 

Why Mental Health Training for Managers is Important

As a result of the factors mentioned above, it is therefore important for those in high positions within companies to be aware of the issues faced by those working beneath them, as well as to have the correct mental health training and appropriate conversations for where it is required. This is known as employee mental well-being. 

This mental health training can be as simple as a basic workplace mental health awareness seminar, but it may also be more beneficial to study and research different qualifications to do with supporting managers and executives who may be struggling in the workplace.

Employee well-being is essential to productivity and positivity within the workplace. 

Though learning this information is useful, it is always better to prepare, rather than learn in the case of an emergency or at the time (3). 

Addiction, mental health, and leadership

In some cases, those faced with extreme stress (such as that faced by those in management or executive positions) may turn to other methods of support, especially if their case goes unnoticed or if they are unwilling to be supported by those around them. 

These methods can be considerably more negative than those previously suggested in this article and include such issues as substance abuse and addiction. 

Addiction is where the individual’s behaviour begins to become affected by the substance that they consume on a regular basis, influencing their lifestyle, health and well-being, as well as their regular bodily processes. 

If an individual is displaying signs of addiction i.e., becoming more withdrawn from society, physical changes, and consuming a large quantity of substance (including alcohol) on a regular basis, then it is important that they seek help as soon as possible. 

Contact or get more information from a website like Rehab Recovery offering alcohol rehab to help you or someone you know today. 

How better mental health practices can improve your business

By bringing an awareness of mental health into the workplace, as well as having open conversations about the issues faced in the workplace, there will be a far more positive attitude towards the concept, and therefore it is more likely that individuals will be open and honest about their situation sooner rather than later. 

Without this, individuals may not feel comfortable enough to talk about their problems, struggling by themselves, and therefore causing a chain of issues when it comes to the day-to-day running of the company. 

With this positive attitude towards mental health in the workplace, work ethic will be increased, individuals will feel more comfortable with their mental health at work, and any problems will be identified far faster than without the awareness. 

1. Increase employees’ options for where, when, and how they work

With the recent struggles faced by the working world, flexibility is something that more and more people are beginning to request within their careers.

By taking control of how much an individual works, creating a safe space, as well as the logistics of this and their flexible hours, individuals will have greater freedom within their careers. 

For example, the 4-day working week on trial in many areas of the UK has shown to be very effective, especially when it comes to the health and well-being of individuals (4). 

2. Listen to what your employees need and use their feedback to evolve

Listening to anyone telling you that they have a problem is a great way to start to fix anything, so why not apply this to the workplace?

If individuals in management or executive positions tell their superiors that they are having issues or may be struggling, then it is important that these concerns are acted upon, with appropriate action taken where suitable and changes made to accommodate these issues in the future. 

This is a potential area for mental health qualifications at work, as it trains individuals to develop and manage programmes to support their employees. 

3. Take a critical look at equity, diversity, and inclusion policies

In some cases, the reason for an individual’s mental health issues may be the way that they are thought of or treated at work. 

In these instances, it is important that this is picked up as soon as possible, perhaps by reviewing the current policies that are in place, protecting equity and diversity. 

By ensuring that employees’ rights and appropriate measures are in place, individuals will be far less likely to develop mental health issues as a result of poor company values. 

Train your managers to promote health and well-being

As mentioned previously, it is vital that high-level managers are trained on the most suitable protocols for mental health in the workplace, educating them about the importance of open discussions, inclusion, and suitable support for those who need it. 

This can be thought of as a ‘top-down’ process: those high up in management will therefore educate their teams, and so on, leading to a greater company attitude to mental health, a generally positive impact, as well as a greater knowledge of how to get help for those who need it. 

Mental health starts at the top

To learn more about mental health at work and the different effects it can have e.g., lower work performance, missed workdays, and risk of developing an addiction, then please get in touch with the most suitable service for you. 

No matter how big or small the issues may seem at the moment, please get in touch with or take a look at specialist support today.  

References 

[1] Dubey, B.L. and Kumar, H., 1986. Management of stress & mental health of executives. Indian Journal of Clinical Psychology.

[2] Levinson, H., 1981. When executives burn out. Harvard business review, 59(3), pp.73-81.

[3] Wilson, M.P., Shenvi, C., Rives, L., Nordstrom, K., Schneider, S. and Gerardi, M., 2019. Opportunities for research in mental health emergencies: Executive summary and methodology. Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, 20(2), p.380.

[4] Kamerāde, D., Balderson, U., Burchell, B., Wang, S. and Coutts, A., 2020. Shorter Working Week and Workers’ Well-being and Mental Health. Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.