|  Leadership & HR   |  Mental Health: Missing the Point

Mental Health: Missing the Point

When we think about ‘mental health’, what comes to mind?  Possibly terms such as:






Less common are concepts such as:


  • Purpose
  • Values
  • Engagement
  • Psychological Safety
  • Empowerment
  • Compassion


But these are some of the key components of work culture that directly impact mental health.


I’m interested in what we put in to work experience to make it meaningful, enjoyable, rewarding and an activity where we can thrive.

Then we support individuals who are happy and healthy.


If you think that’s soft… look at the companies who are performing best. What is their culture like? And look closer to home – where are your employees being most effective and how has their manager shaped their experience? I’m curious about how companies approach developing these aspects, particularly when practice is having to pivot with different ways of working. Are companies really carving out the time? Do they have the confidence and know how?


If you are serious about developing positive mental health, avoid simply focusing on campaigns and support that enable people to get help. Work on the aspects of your business that you have control over, that promote positive feelings, thoughts, and behaviour. We know that when employees feel secure in their role, are recognised, are able to give and receive positive attention, have a sense of control, feel an emotional connection to others, are part of a wider community, are accepted for who they are, experience a sense of status, achievement and competence, are stretched meaningfully, and are able to have downtime when needed, they are most likely to thrive. How much time do you spend on exploring and developing those critical aspects of good mental health?


But, remember that without exploring what these concepts, such as values, compassion, control and status, mean to you and your company, and the difference they make, they are simply nominalisations. And that sustains poorer mental health as employees continue to experience a work culture that is less than optimal.


As a leader, manager, or HR professional, where are you spending most of your time?


  1. Dealing with the impact of stress and poor mental wellbeing
  2. Communicating the need to talk about mental health and where to get support
  3. Developing your role to create a culture for employees to experience good mental wellbeing


Are you using your resources well? Are YOU in the best place to lead by example?


The most critical component


Of course, to look after your employees, you need to look after you. Self-care is not a luxury – it is a given if we want to promote good mental wellbeing for those around us. A bit like putting on your own oxygen mask first, we must ensure that our brain is in the best place to function well.


If we are stressed, snappy, anxious about decisions we need to make, and burning out, we are unable to lead well. Simple. You are going to struggle to be compassionate when your own emotional arousal is high. With high levels of cortisol, adrenalin and other hormones produced in response to stress, we revert to protective mode, and that often means our behaviours undermine psychological safety. Quite frankly, in that moment, the experience of your employees is often way off your radar.


So, start being honest about what causes your emotional arousal to overtake your intentions to lead well. And then commit to changing the balance so that you show up as you intend and are not simply the product of your side-lined mental wellbeing.


✔️ Increase your self-awareness.

✔️ Increase your confidence.

✔️ Increase your success.


Get you right to get the work culture right to get employee mental health right.



Join our event to develop the fundamentals that underpin a healthy and happy organisation, in the Tipi with David Savage. Or drop me a line to start the conversation.