While statistics are widely publicised about the number of employees that are likely to struggle with their mental wellbeing, recent events are a stark reminder that leaders also need support for their mental health.
Jamie Oliver tweeted that he was ‘devastated’ that his restaurants went into administration, Theresa May has ‘deep regret’ that she couldn’t succeed in her role. And the effects can be felt long-term: Gerald Ratner has spoken of the time following his business struggles, that he didn’t earn for several years, and got further into debt and depression.*
While being at the top of the tree can bring autonomy, reward and adulation, when success isn’t sustained, being at the top can be a very lonely place. While many may be ambitious for the extra responsibility, that responsibility can also weigh heavily when the livelihoods of many are reliant on the success of an individual. People at the top can also find that their support network diminishes, with colleagues looking to rely on them, rather than being able to help.
Many employers are implementing policies to support the mental wellbeing of staff, and managers also need to be encouraged to access that support. The effects of extreme stress can cause sleepless nights, lack of confidence, or an inability to make decisions, which not only affect work but all areas of life; it can be a vicious circle, and affect physical health too.
Brett Hill, managing director for The Health Insurance Group said:
“The strengths of the kind of support that can be made available via the workplace are that it’s confidential, 24/7, offered by specialists in their field who are separate from the company – all qualities that make it of so much use to employees are of particular value to managers too. Mental ill-health doesn’t discriminate, by industry sector, age or seniority; all employers need to offer it, and all employees need to have access.”