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Sad on Couch

  May 2023

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    Employees' mental health suffers when managers try to be therapists

    Employee stress levels have increased due to layoffs, disputes over return to work, and worries that occupations could be replaced by artificial intelligence, revealing a concerning workplace weakness: Very few managers are skilled at handling workers' worries about their mental health.

    According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, nine out of ten U.S. adults think there is a mental health crisis in the nation. Few organizations have guardrails in place so managers know what not to say, even if most have basic policies on how to handle problems like employee sadness and anxiety. This results in what experts describe as haphazard attempts by managers to discuss mental health issues at work, which, despite their best intentions, may put more stress on employees. According to a survey by the business network Fishbowl, more than seven out of ten workers feel uncomfortable talking to their superiors about their mental health requirements and issues.

    According to Christina McCarthy, executive director of the mental health nonprofit One Mind at Work, "managers are adrift." "The middle managers, who are on the front lines, are fundamentally unprepared."
    See more: What workers need to know to choose the correct therapy is revealed by a psychologist
    Organizations have raised awareness of and investment in mental health concerns as a result of the pandemic's spike in mental health problems among workers. Long-held stigmas are fading, and once-guarded business executives are now open about the difficulties they've encountered. According to a survey conducted by Headspace Health last year, two out of three CEOs reported discussing their mental health at work, up from only one in three in 2020. Yet, that does not imply that they are acting responsibly.

    For years, businesses and their executives have been searching for the best strategy for addressing workplace mental health. The secret to success, according to corporate consultant Mike Robbins' "Bring Your Entire Self to Work" TED talk from 2015, is bringing "all of who we are" to work with us, including our "fears, doubts, and insecurities." He expanded on past research by Brené Brown, who has emphasized the "power of vulnerability," in his lecture.

    Yet, as these cutting-edge leadership strategies have gained popularity, staff members have started to complain on company blogs about managers that push employees to appear vulnerable before budget meetings. On team calls, some even established a "condolence nook" where employees were encouraged to share details of a recent tragedy, such as the passing of a parent.

    McCarthy stated, "Managers are not therapists – it's a liability. Because of the possibility of unintended repercussions, "most businesses would be alarmed if they heard that their managers were operating in this way."

    A training platform's vice president of people, Melanie Naranjo, recalls having a boss who insisted she discuss matters she'd prefer to keep secret early in the outbreak.
    She stated, "Employees want to feel supervisors care about their performance and well-being. "It does not entail mentioning that you experience depression. I want to check to see whether anyone else has by opening it."

    According to James Pratt, a former human resources executive who has struggled with bipolar disorder, leaders who do that are similar to "psychological vampires." "They thrive off of everyone else's suffering, and it can cause others to suffer a great deal."

    Even while it is more common now, training only goes so far, according to experts. Bernie Wong, senior manager of insights and principal at mental health group Mind Sharing Partners, said, "It's just click the box and go on." The finest piece of advise that professionals can give a layperson drawn into a coworker's troubles is to listen and direct them to the right source of help.

    Employers are working to become better. The tax and auditing behemoth KPMG is testing a scheme where managers can contact and use the company's confidential employee assistance program (EAP), which links staff members to mental-health facilities. By doing this, they are better able to comprehend the procedure in use when an employee actually requires assistance.

    In his capacity as US overall rewards leader and manager of KPMG's benefits and wellbeing programs, Jason LaRue remarked, "If someone came to us bleeding, we would not ask just anybody to be a doctor." You direct them to the assistance they require.

    One worry is that the cost-cutting initiatives that are still gaining traction throughout the economy might target mental health resources. In a poll conducted by Headspace Health last year, only 25% of employees reported that their employers continued to focus on the problem when the pandemic subsided. According to Wong of Mind Sharing Partners, that would be foolish.

    Employees are particularly in need of help during economic downturns, when companies feel the need to make cuts, he claimed.





    From: Thomas Boyle at Reuters News

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