Mental Health Wellness Training is designed to help business leaders gain a greater understanding of what mental health is, the challenges people often face, and how to de-stigmatize conversations about those challenges in the workplace.
Elements of Mental Health Wellness Training, include:
Seeing mental health challenge through employee case studies
Mental Health Wellness audit
Welligence provides executive training for leaders to avoid and correct toxic behaviors that negatively impact business results and productivity. Mental Health Wellness Training is a vehicle by which managers can undergo a mindset shift and adopt the practices and language of relationship-oriented leaders—thereby improving workplace wellbeing in a way that positively impacts productivity and the bottom line.
Mental Health Wellness Education
In the case of mental health wellness and challenges, managers often just don’t know what they don’t know. A lack of understanding and sometimes a lack of management empathy leads to disengagement, lost productivity, and ultimately employee turnover. Education is the key component of Mental Health Wellness Training as it helps to define what mental health is and identifies the common challenges people face in the work context. Recognizing signs and symptoms of mental health challenges is critical to opening up the conversation with individuals in the workplace.
An atmosphere of transparency, trust, and empathy is key to breaking the stigma of mental health challenges. When the barrier to communication is broken, employees feel freer to openly discuss the issues they may be experiencing and may be more open to seeking treatment. Even when treatment isn’t required, an open atmosphere can help alleviate feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression when managers and team leaders are willing to accept team members’ limitations and adjust work schedules and deliverables around the optimal workplace model for each individual.
What is Mental Health Wellness Training? It’s another tool for organizations seeking to retain employees, create healthy workplace cultures, and nurture people in a way that leads to greater innovation and productivity.
An atmosphere of transparency, trust, and empathy is key to breaking the stigma of mental health challenges. When the barrier to communication is broken, employees feel freer to openly discuss the issues they may be experiencing and may be more open to seeking treatment.
Just as important as what Mental Health Wellness Training is, is what it is not. It is not a license to become your organization’s armchair psychologist. There is a saying that a little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing. If not used prudently, the same is true of mental health awareness. Listening to a TED talk or participating in a training program does not make participants mental health experts. We make it clear that our participants should not assume to diagnose anyone or offer mental health advice as a result of completing the training. Doing so can be just as damaging as ignoring when a team member reveals that they are struggling with an issue at home or at work.
Mental Health Wellness Skills
Like anything, managing teams for better mental health wellness requires acquiring new skills. Once acquired, these skills need to be put into practice and honed over time. For some managers, a few of these skills will already be in place. Others may think they have them, but find that they are communicating something different than what they intend. And still others will be completely unaware of what it means to lead with mental health wellness in mind.
A few key skills managers need to lead teams with greater empathy and understanding include:
Creating psychological safety
Leading as a relationship manager
Using the language of mental health
Taking proactive and preventative actions
In a recent blog we discussed: “How to Retain Employees and Psychological Safety in Change Environments.” We addressed the importance of creating psychological safety in work environments where significant change is occurring. However, the advice is good for any organization that hasn’t yet considered the importance of psychological safety for its employees.
The link between psychological safety and employee productivity has already been established. A recent article in the Harvard Business Review stated, “Despite the fact that over 200 million workdays are lost due to mental health conditions each year ($16.8 billion in employee productivity), mental health remains a taboo subject. In fact, almost 60% of employees have never spoken to anyone at work about their mental health status.”
Training managers to be mindful, respectful, and open to hearing and understanding the challenges their team members face is critical to businesses hoping to turn the tide of resignations and burnout.
The mindset shift from task manager to relationship manager
Our work lives exist between two polarizing concepts. One, that we spend more time at work than anywhere else in our lives and need to feel accepted, appreciated, and rewarded for the time and effort we put in and two, that our work lives are guided by business goals, task completion, and performance metrics. When organizations and managers try to separate personal lives and work lives in order to meet business goals, the result is actually the opposite of the intent. Productivity stalls, employees lose motivation, and more time is spent off-task than on.
On the other hand, when managers lead with compassion and take the time to get to know their team members, open up conversations to discuss the emotional impact of work and life at any given time, and view accommodations as a part of the process, employee satisfaction grows—and along with it, productivity.
Although we may all think we agree that compassion and empathy are essential elements in interpersonal communications, why is it that 68% of CEOs fear they’ll be less respected if they show empathy in the workplace, according to a Business Solver study? It’s an interesting statistic and one that shows that task-management is still the “power” management style for leaders.
68% of CEOs fear they’ll be less respected if they show empathy in the workplace
Source: Business Solver Study
If empathy and compassion are considered a weakness in upper management, it’s no wonder that mid-level managers and individual contributors continue to withhold information about their wellbeing from others in the organization. In an environment where empathy is a weakness, there isn’t a lot of room to find alternatives or work on solutions that benefit both the employee and the organization—two keys to a relationship manager workstyle.
The language of mental health
Labeling is both conscious and unconscious. We may say something in passing like, “The way he’s always hot and cold on these projects, he must be bipolar”, or “That vendor is psycho if she thinks we’re going to buy the whole package.” While these types of phrases are often used in hyperbole, they can be damaging to people who may be actually suffering from mental health diagnoses.
In less obvious cases, employees who reveal struggles with depression, anxiety, and other challenges cannot be marginalized in the workplace and labeled as “lazy”, “unreliable”, or “difficult” to work with. Instead, Mental Health Wellness Training will teach managers how to recognize stigmatizing language and attitudes in themselves and others and help frame the conversation around employees who are being given alternative work arrangements to help them perform at their best.
Employees who reveal struggles with depression, anxiety, and other challenges cannot be marginalized in the workplace and labeled as “lazy”, “unreliable”, or “difficult” to work with.
The language we use is often a reflection of attitudes that we may not even realize we have. Although a study in 2021 revealed that 76 percent of respondents reported at least one symptom of a mental health condition in that year—up from 59% in 2019—mental health challenges are still seen as personal weakness and something people can control if they really want to. These attitudes have been with us for generations and have created unconscious biases that are hard to overcome without the right training.
Your mental health wellness knowledge is a tool
If you’re lucky enough to have an employee who is willing to share their story, challenges, and mental health with you, your training will help you to listen and provide the necessary support. Using your knowledge to chime in with your diagnosis and observations is more likely to make the situation worse and cause that person to lose trust and shut down.
Instead, Mental Health Wellness Training will give you the tools that will help you to remain mindful and respectful of anyone sharing their situation with you. It will help you to think outside yourself and your perceived needs to see the situation from another’s point of view. It will, hopefully, help you to understand the need to be flexible and to evaluate your actual needs versus perceived needs and to reframe the workday or requirements—like being on camera on demand, being available at a certain time of day, or coming into an office on prescribed days and times.
People are productive in different ways and unless there is real reason to insist on a certain cadence of work or particular work hours, allowing people to work when they are most productive and to work in a way that best suits their productivity style will ultimately benefit the organization.
At the core of this mindset shift is one important element, trust. If you trust yourself and your teammates to do their best work, if you’re transparent in your communications and welcome others to be their authentic selves at work, you can use your mental health wellness knowledge as a tool to build amazing teams that accomplish beyond the stated goals of the organization. Take away trust and you’ll find micromanagers who drive their teams to anxiety, depression, burnout, and ultimately to leave the organization.
Proactive and preventative management
We’ve learned from some of our case studies that if managers had been empowered to make the best decisions for their team members, if they had known what resources are at their disposal, and if their team members felt free to discuss challenges openly, jobs could have been saved and people’s lives could have been changed for the better.
In one case, simple things like a change in insurance created a financial hardship for an employee who needed medication and could now no longer afford it. As a result, her work performance suffered and she ultimately lost her job—without anyone knowing that critical medication made the difference in her ability to function.
Other cases included life events like a death in the family or birth of a special needs child when the traditional leave did not give the employees the time they needed to to take care of their family and themselves. Chronic lateness and distractibility led to a series of poor evaluations and ultimately dismissal.
Rarely do one-size policies fit every employee in every circumstance. Organizations that can be flexible and managers that are allowed to act proactively and provide preventative measures are those that will begin to see their employees as the unique individuals they are—a real advancement in DEI policies.
Organizations serious about changing the workplace culture and creating an environment that draws people to join and encourages them to stay will mandate training for managers. Those organizations will also see the value in the training and offer it to managers during normal work hours, because they also value the work/life balance of their leaders.
Mental Health Wellness Training will help you promote better mental health in your workplace, by normalizing the conversation and giving manager the tools they need to lead with compassion.
Organizations serious about changing the workplace culture and creating an environment that draws people to join and encourages them to stay will mandate training for managers.
Ready to learn more? At Welligence, we specialize in mental health training programs for the workplace. Our courses are designed to lead companies to overcome the stigma of mental health and reduce the decline in productivity that results from it by way of education and implementation of workplace wellness best practices. Find out how we can help you normalize the mental health conversation in your workplace.