Leading with Care: Exploring the impact of social relationships.
For the longest time, we have been avid enjoyers of passive content on social media, on the television and the internet. We have been also working from morning to afternoon to night in our routines, whether we were at school or university or at our workplace. While we lead these mostly mundane lives of ours, we are also exposed to the most horrifying news of the decline of global stability in terms of nature, society and of ourselves. Our era is, now more than ever, aware of our own internal struggles and conversation stirs with mental health awareness, support and transparency.
Though landmark studies of the mind happened centuries ago, we are now only starting to grasp the prevalence of these conditions. For the most part, work culture has adapted mental health awareness in their organizations. This notably excludes many organizations in Sri Lanka since mental health literacy is still sadly limited to the urban and educated populations. Although one thing that accompanies these new approaches, they revolve around euphemisms and encouragement of self-care and verbal support yet there is a lack of direct and practical help towards a struggling team member.
Exploring the impact of social relationships as a remedy and strategy
A first approach here is a clear and crystal understanding of how work impacts your teams. Even though as a leader, you may encourage personal growth and positive contributions, yet it must be taken into consideration that not all your team members think the same. They are of diverse backgrounds, talent and upbringing – that is precisely what makes your team strong. The advantage of a variety of brilliant minds together is the superpower to progress. However, they may have extreme workloads and personal commitments which may be shunning their growth in the workplace.
Most commonly, mental health issues are identified as anxiety and depression which could inhibit daily work. However, mental health conditions hold hands with social factors like economy, childhood trauma, discrimination, or ongoing physical illness and so on. But you may be wondering how these factors can be managed through your help. It is true that mental health conditions aren’t controllable. But factors like workplace stress, ineffective systems, exhausting time-schedules and unrealistic deadlines have so much power to trigger experiences or emotions that might make an individual spiral into an unhealthy style of living and coping.
Approaches to make your members reach out for help
So, what can you do to really impact the life of a team member so they don’t fall apart? I want to highlight the impact of social relationships as a remedy and strategy (among many others of course). Find time to connect and keep in touch with your members. A mental health day or a mental health survey is one way to go about this. Have sharing spaces which encourage all experiences equally. One may begin expressing how great their experience has been so far, this would make another not share a negative experience they might have had due to fear and shame.
As a leader, there is a power dynamic you share and by being open to all experiences by even sharing your own experiences that may have been life lessons could be a starting approach. Yet, the process is intricate. You can’t force a movie night and hope for the best. Sometimes, collective hobbies may be far more stressful for them to sacrifice time towards. If plans aren’t carefully executed, it might make things worse than better.
The line between the good and the bad is thinner when it comes to psychological health. A stigma-free culture doesn’t happen overnight, yet slowly cultivating a culture where mental health is navigated, difficult conversations are necessary to change the mindsets of all. Pride and position could very well be restricting the team to stop sharing their issues. They may be particularly concerned about losing their positions or opportunities due to their limiting forces. Don’t hold them accountable to their episodes of emotions, chances are they are already hung up on them and are trying to improve themselves.
Let your team grow at their own pace
Another approach to make your members reach out for help is to have an ongoing survey or platform, where they are allowed to confidentially send you concerns, recommendations and so on. People need people, if your team doesn’t respond to you, that does not mean they don’t have anything to say. Instead give them a space to slowly grow into confidence. Let your team grow at their own pace, their work ethic will make sure it won’t hinder the growth of the team as a whole.
One significant way you can impact the lives of your team members is delegating them with tasks they are good at and enjoy doing. Newly designed and easily accessible personality testing platforms and feedback surveys would be a helping hand to leaders in this regard. If your members feel incompetent in their tasks or do not like them enough to learn them, they may suffer from the imposter syndrome, which would further nurture their self-pity and they will feel like they don’t deserve their successes.
Be realistic as a leader.
It’s easy to encourage the team to adapt to work cultures and fit-in, though a better and a far fresh path to take would be to build the team around your members instead of making your members fit the pre-drawn map of the team. Along with these little steps, engaging in active listening and genuine concern as well as knowing that there is a time and place for everything goes a long way. More importantly, it is important that the team shares these concerns. This can create a “ripple effect” in the context of mental health, where one person’s actions or experiences can set off a chain reaction that shapes the emotional landscape of individuals, groups, and even extends to communities. Hence, overall these positive efforts to promote mental health awareness, understanding, and support can have far-reaching effects, ultimately contributing to a healthier and more compassionate society.
With that being said, if you are really struggling from mental health challenges, the following support lines and places are free of charge! They encourage you reach out to them to help manage any concerns or conditions you may be having;
Sumithrayo (Face-to-face, over the phone, and email consultations available.)
Hotline: +94 11 2 682535 / +94 11 2 682570
CCC-line: Free telephone helpline service, all day of the week from 7am to 5am.
Shanthi Maargam: For psychological and emotional support, career guidance and future planning.
Contact number: 0717639898
National Mental Health Hotline-1926
AIESEC in University of Peradeniya