Why should leaders prioritise mental health? - Batyr


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Why should leaders prioritise mental health?

October 13, 2021


Written by Tim Sharp


Firstly, please excuse the somewhat aggressive tone in that header. I’m not usually one for making such an exhortation, but I did want to get your attention. And for that, I’m not sorry. Because this is a very important issue; and one that for way too long has not received the attention if deserves.

To what am I referring?

Quite simply, I’m talking about mental ill-health; something that affects pretty much every single one of us. And something that’s prevalent in pretty much every single organisation.

Which is why it’s so important for YOU, the bosses and leaders, to give some thought to this. Because by thinking about and acting on this you’ll be setting the example for others, fostering a healthier and more positive culture, leading the way for the whole organisation to be more mindful of, and to respond more effectively and compassionately to those in need. As a boss, others will follow your example.

And there are, somewhat sadly, so many in need. We know from the research that at the very least, 1 in 4 or maybe even 1 in 3 people will have an experience of mental ill-health during any typical year. Given the unusual circumstances we’ve all experienced in recent times, the numbers at the moment will be even higher.

If we then consider those who live with and love, those who know and work with people personally experiencing mental ill-health then it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that everyone will be affected in some way – if not directly then almost certainly indirectly.

And if this weren’t enough of a problem, another unfortunate fact is that only about 1 in 4 or maybe even 1 in 5 of those who’re suffering will ever seek help from a qualified professional. There are several reasons for this, but the biggest is almost certainly stigma. That is, despite feeling highly distressed and despite struggling to function in their lives, the significant majority of those with mental ill-health don’t ever present to a doctor of psychologist because they’re afraid of being judged, negatively, by those around them. Shame and embarrassment create a culture of silence which reduces treatment seeking and means so many suffer so much more than they need to.

And this is why I’m asking you, politely, to shut up! Because by doing so, you might experience just a bit of what it’s like to be silent; to not have a voice. Which is the way so many, especially young people, feel when their mental health is poor. By being quiet, you can get a small taste of this but more importantly, you can support the incredible work that the incredible people at batyr try to do each and every day.

batyr have been leaders in this area for a decade now; showing how stigma can be smashed by sharing the lived experiences of young people and demonstrating that as a result, as stigma is reduced, treatment seeking is increased. The less shame people feel and the less alone they feel, the more they’re willing to take the necessary steps to approach appropriate mental-health professionals.

Just as batyr have led the way, so too can you lead the way by … shutting up; just for one day. That’s all. But that small act, that very small sacrifice, could raise some very important funds for the very important work batyr do and/or raise the awareness that could make the difference in someone’s life, prompting them to seek the help they need. Surely that’s worth being silent for; in fact, that silence would be like shouting “I CARE” from the rooftops!

Are you a leader who wants to support youth mental health? Sign up for SHUT UP, boss! and raise vital funds and awareness for youth mental health. Take part between October 25-29.