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Preserving Mental Wellness in the Workplace As a Leader

The summer months are on here, which means warmer weather, sunshine, and for a lot of businesses, an uptick in revenue. But while bright sunshine might improve your mood, it doesn’t mean that everyone is bright, cheery and feeling good – especially in the workplace.

Mental and emotional issues, like depression, whether brought on by external circumstances or not, don’t take months or seasons off. While, societally, we are trained to be sensitive to mental and emotional issues in colder months and rainy days, it’s just as important to be cognizant during times you might not expect it.

If you’re a small business owner or leader, it’s important to always have a finger on the pulse of your team. You spend countless hours with your team members and co-workers, giving you a lot of time and opportunity to spot and address warning signs of depression or other mental illnesses.

Right off the top, as an employer, you need to do your best to make sure you’re not contributing unnecessarily to mental anguish or emotional problems. Abusive language, insensitivity, managing via fear, putting undue stress or pressure on team members are all no-nos.

You need to create a safe working environment, which extends beyond just making sure there aren’t open fires or sinkholes in the office.

If you notice that an employee seems suddenly disengaged or reclusive, if you notice a dip in performance, or if you notice a dramatic change in their appearance or behavior, take note and consider finding a confidential and respectful way to speak with them.

Your goal is to help your team member get help, not necessarily be the one to help.

Make sure your employees and team members know that they can approach you with problems and issues they’re facing and it won’t be conflated with or confused with a character issue.

Remember, mental and emotional illnesses are just that - illnesses. It’s not anyone’s fault, and no one chooses to become depressed or to suffer from another mental illness.

In general, communication is key. Focus on the behaviors that you’ve noticed, and don’t make assumptions. Listen, and be encouraging.

Being a small business owner or leader, you should investigate some resources that you can make available to employees in the event they need help. Remember that in some cases, people might be in circumstances where they don’t feel comfortable approaching friends or family with something they might be going through.

You might end up in the best position to help as a manager or leader.

You might also seem them more often than others, and given that you evaluate their performance, can probably tell when something is wrong, even if they’re hiding it from others.

Don’t assume things are peachy because it’s warm and sunny out - keep an eye on the people you work for and look out for signs that someone might need help.

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