Mental wellness is one of the most troublesome health concerns in the United States. Approximately one in five adults report mental health symptoms each year, and many more go untreated due to the stigma surrounding mental disorders. 

Unfortunately, mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and addiction are often misunderstood or mistakenly associated with weakness or personal failure.

Business Leaders Need to Talk About Their Mental Health Struggles:

Business leaders can help destigmatize mental illness through policy and corporate culture changes. But more importantly, leaders should talk about their mental health struggles.

Leaders in the workplace have typically kept silent to avoid exposing what others may perceive as weaknesses. So, to other employees, they seem infallible. But workers need role models that they know have difficulties similar to their own.

Mental issues strike all workers equally, no matter where they reside on the organizational chart. Starting the dialogue about personal experiences with mental health is the best way for top management to develop a corporate culture of mental wellness.

Prudential Financial uses one successful example of this approach. Prudential normalizes the discussion of mental health by having senior leaders use video messages to share their personal stories.

The Workplace is an Ideal Location to Cultivate a Culture of Mental Wellness:

  • 63% of Americans are already part of the US labor force.
  • People in the United States spend about 25 – 33 percent of their lives at work.
  • Communication structures are already in place.
  • There are already many programs in place which could easily be updated and adapted.
  • Social support is available.

The Benefits of Building a Corporate Culture That Addresses Mental Health Concerns:

Handling mental health concerns in the workplace can reduce health care costs for businesses and employees. In addition, better mental health can positively impact an employee’s:

  • Job performance and productivity
  • Daily functioning
  • Communication with coworkers
  • Engagement with their work
  • Retention and job satisfaction
  • Rates of disability or unemployment
  • Physical capability
  • Cognitive performance

There’s still a long way to go to eliminate the stigma of mental illness. However, business leaders can pave the way by sharing their struggles.