April 13

Leadership’s Vital Role in Fostering Mental Wellness

Is the responsibility for mental wellness solely on individuals, or do leaders have a significant role to play? It’s a nuanced question. While individuals are ultimately accountable for their well-being, the influence of leadership on mental health cannot be overlooked. Let’s look at the data and explore this further.

According to statistics from “Statista,” the number of U.S. adults seeking mental health treatment or counseling has been steadily increasing. From 2002 to 2019, the figures rose from 27.2 million to 37.1 million, and the trend has continued, with 55.8 million seeking treatment in 2022. These numbers highlight the growing prevalence of mental health issues in society. We have never had more people receive mental health treatment or counseling.

  • Depression is the #1 health risk in the world.
  • One in four people will experience mental illness this year.

Many people cite the workplace as a primary reason for the high rates of anxiety and depression: 69% of employees would hide their mental health condition from coworkers. 80% of employees won’t seek treatment because of fear and shame. It takes ten years, on average, to seek professional help.

But let’s personalize this. Can any of us claim not to know someone affected by mental illness? The reality is that mental health concerns touch us all, directly or indirectly.

While individuals bear responsibility for their mental well-being, effective leaders recognize their role in fostering a supportive environment conducive to optimal mental health.

Forbes article by Tracy Brower, Ph.D., entitled Managers Have Major Impact On Mental Health: How To Lead For Wellbeing points out that managers have more impact on an employee’s mental health than any other single person in their lives:

According to 69% of people, their managers had the greatest impact on their mental health, on par with the impact of their partner. And this was more than the impact of their doctor (51%) or therapist (41%). This is according to a new study by The Workforce Institute at UKG which included 3,400 people across ten countries.”

Dr. Brower further cites the Workforce Institute at UKG research:

“A large number of people are affected by stress. In fact, according to the study, 43% of employees report they are exhausted, and 78% say stress negatively impacts their work performance. Other aspects of life are also affected as 71% say stress at work negatively impinges on their home life, 64% say it detracts from their wellbeing and 62% say it degrades their relationships.”

Exceptional leaders understand their power to shape the experiences of those they lead. They acknowledge the responsibility to prioritize the welfare of their team members over personal whims or shortcomings. While imperfections are inevitable, self-aware leaders strive to minimize their negative impact on others. They also realize the responsibility of leadership is to do what is best for others. The worst leaders let their impatience, ego, personal agenda, arrogance, need for control, and self-centeredness run rampant.

Dr. Brower states: “Leaders have a critical role to play in contributing to the conditions for positive mental health—their own and others’.

Our collective purpose as leaders is to make the world a better place. I firmly believe all leaders are called to address the mental health and wellness epidemic. It’s your opportunity to develop a game plan to better care for yourself and those around you.

You can make a huge difference! Consider the many options before you. To improve mental wellbeing, leaders can take proactive steps:

  1. Address toxic leadership: Cultivate a culture of psychological safety and hold accountable those who perpetuate toxicity.
  2. Combat burnout: Set reasonable expectations to prevent excessive working hours and performance pressure.
  3. Promote energy renewal: Encourage strategies for physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual rejuvenation. Hold everyone accountable to have renewal strategies. Start with a free assessment at the High-Performance Institute’s website.
  4. Normalize mental health conversations: Remove stigma by openly discussing mental health and available resources.
  5. Foster support networks: Facilitate platforms for employees to share experiences and offer mutual support.
  6. Cultivate a supportive culture: Evaluate organizational norms and behaviors to prioritize mental health and wellness.

By demonstrating empathy and investing in your team’s well-being, you can make a profound difference in your employees’ lives. Ultimately, supporting mental health isn’t just a responsibility—it’s a profound opportunity to empower individuals and foster a healthier, more resilient workforce.


Would you like to help a poor leader? Contact me and let me know how I can reach out to them. I will help them get feedback and create an improvement plan. Your referral will be anonymous.


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