Small Business Leaders: Why Mental Health Month Matters
It’s mental health month, and every business can benefit from refocusing on why it matters.
In a small business, the mental health of each team member plays an important role in your overall success. You rely on your people to be well-balanced, practical, and capable of handling stressful situations when they arise. Every member of your team is essential, but a small team also makes it possible to look after each and every team member’s mental health through both leadership and direct support.
As a business leader, it is your role to provide a supportive structure and set a good example for mental health self-care so that your team knows it’s OK to prioritize their own well-being should the need arise. Mental health matters because your team is a finely tuned machine of valuable individuals who can thrive in your business if you create the right environment.
The Role of Leadership in Small Business Mental Health
Leadership plays an important role in a small business. Everyone takes their queue from the owner, founder, or lead manager who heads the team. Unlike larger corporations with a more impersonal structure to fall back on, you set the tone and the behavior that others will try to model. They will feel that long hours are expected if you work long hours. If you prioritize clocking out on time, your team will follow suit.
The same is true for the wellbeing of your employees. If you show positive leadership and prioritize self-care, your team will know it’s safe to do the same. By improving your leadership skills and learning how to support mental and emotional balance in the workplace, you can help your entire small business staff take better care of themselves when it matters most.
Identify the Signs of Mental Health Struggles
One of the best things a leader can do is learn to identify the signs of mental health struggles. Everyone has their own challenges related to their personal lives, tolerance for stress, and even their inherent balance of neurotransmitters. It’s important to be aware when someone is struggling because too much is asked of them or because they are dealing with personal problems that would benefit from compassion and self-care.
Learning how to recognize depression, anxiety, and burnout can help you take the right actions to help each employee regain a healthy balance and build a work routine that supports their well-being.
Signs of Depression
- Low energy and fatigue
- Reduced productivity and procrastination
- Avoidance of new projects
- More frequent mistakes
- Losing time
- Withdrawing into oneself
Signs of Anxiety
- Worrying about routine things
- Irritability, fatigue ad tension
- Trying to be perfect all the time
- Concentration and memory problems
- Increased frequency of illness or symptoms of discomfort
Signs of Burnout
- Sensitivity to feedback
- Putting in hours with lack of engagement
- Increasingly cynical attitude
Encourage Employees to Take Care & Seek Help When Needed
Ensure your employees know you encourage them to seek help if they struggle with mental health. Many people assume that mental health discussions in the workplace are well-meaning but don’t reflect action. Help your employees know that you truly want them to take good care of themselves and access mental health resources when needed.
If you notice an employee struggling, offer a kind word, a day off, and suggest resources to help them work through whatever they are dealing with. Determine if they have a balanced workload or are dealing with a personal matter needing time. Let them know, as a leader, that the business supports their well-being and wants them to be well.
Create a Safe Space Where Mental Health is Valued
Create a safe space within your workspace. Not only should you help your employees understand that their mental health is valued, but you should also create a protected avenue where they can request the time or resources they need to recover. Your HR person or service should offer anonymous consultation where an employee can request time off, a few days working from home, or access mental health resources in private.
The safe space allows employees to seek their own solutions without publicizing that they are mentally or emotionally struggling. Most people don’t want to broadcast their inner challenges to their coworkers. A functional HR protocol and confidential meetings with a manager make it possible to deal with personal matters privately and return confidently, ready to retake their professional role fully.
Provide Mental Health Resources
Mental health resources are essential to supporting your team in long-term well-being. As a small business, you can give your employees access to counseling services, support groups, and Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), which provide the support they need when a day at home isn’t enough. Once you set up access to these resources, ensure everyone knows they are encouraged to take part whenever they need to speak to a professional or access formal mental health services, with their privacy fully protected for those who choose to reach out for help when they need it most.
If you want to get ahead of the curve, set up a quiet space with cushions for a few minutes of meditation (and emergency naps) for those with rising stress. Provide snack breaks designed to lift the spirits and host company activities with ‘destressing events’ like smash rooms and guided meditation to relieve stress.
Lead By Example
Lastly, remember to lead by example. Take a mental health day every once in a while. Instruct your managers (if you have a tiered structure) to do the same, and to approve mental health days whenever they can. Tell them you turn off your phone after hours and encourage them to do the same. After a stressful, busy season, offer a rotational schedule of days off to recuperate for your team, who put in the extra hours and effort to make it work. Let everyone know that it’s not just a reward, it’s because you value their mental health and want to reduce the risk of burnout from your awesome team working so hard when it counts.
Allow your team to see you using the meditation spaces or tossing a few pots in a smash room. Blow off steam and encourage everyone else to do the same. Then invite feedback to learn how else your team might appreciate integrated mental health opportunities.
When you, as the leader, model mental health self-care by taking breaks, setting boundaries, and letting off steam, your team will feel comfortable doing the same.
Take Care Of Your Team’s Health with Inspiring HR
At Inspiring HR, we prioritize the wellness of your entire team, not just the facts and figures of small business HR regulations. Let us help you set up the resources and leadership skills to enable good mental health throughout your small business team. Contact us today to learn how we uncomplicate HR and empower small businesses.