What to Do When an Employee Opens Up About Mental Health

by | Jan 3, 2023 | Podcast

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During this week’s episode of Reflect Forward: Advice From a CEO, I discuss what to do when an employee opens up about mental health.

As a people leader, you will occasionally have to help people work through emotional trauma, personal situations and past baggage. And let’s face it, with mental health being such a significant issue in today’s society, we can’t expect our employees, teammates, and colleagues to leave their personal lives at home. How we behave at work is influenced by happenings at home and our mental health, and we want to show up as our whole selves. And while engaging in these talks might be difficult and uncomfortable, I have found that you can help your employees by leaning into these conversations.

During the episode, I share how I mentally prepare for emotional conversations on mental health and personal issues. You should also familiarize yourself with options the employee might have, such as paid time off, the use of an Employee Assistance Program, etc. I also talk about the power of asking questions and why I think it’s important to understand their situation so you know how to help. Most people want to be understood, even if it’s embarrassing to admit what’s happening. I also discuss the importance of boundaries and how to ensure you don’t play the role of a therapist.

Mental health crises are going to be part of the ongoing norm. It’s a major issue in our society right now, and we as leaders cannot stick our heads on the ground and say, “It’s not my problem; they just need to deal with it outside of the workplace.” People spend most of their time at work and need support from their leadership and companies to endure tough times. Everybody can use a little bit of help from time to time, and sometimes that little bit of help is all they need to move through it and come out the other side stronger.

Question of the Week

This week’s question came from Justin Skinner, who hosts The Professional Failure podcast. He asked me, “What do you do when you find yourself really angry, upset, or annoyed about a situation? He appreciated my answer, so I thought I should share it with you!

The number one thing I do when I am getting annoyed at a situation or somebody or angry or upset is to stop and tell myself three different possible stories about what’s actually happening rather than assume that my judgment or assessment is true. We humans are so good at thinking that we know why people are doing the things they do, and we are so sure that we understand a situation, and often, we are wrong. Have a listen to find out more!

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