Executives Shouldn’t Neglect Own Mental Health

Most individual and small group health insurance plans that companies offer their employees are now required to cover mental health and substance abuse disorder services. But while trying to provide care options for the staff, business owners can often neglect themselves. 

Maggie Young, SWEAP Connections President, spoke recently with Arkansas Business about the importance of self-care and assistance for executives.

Q: Why is it important for executives and business leaders to care about and seek help for their mental health?

A: When executives and business leaders face mental health issues, the negative impacts are very wide-ranging — affecting not only themselves, their family and friends, but also their colleagues, customers, and the overall community.

Q: What work-related factors can negatively impact an executive’s mental health?

A: Often subordinates can put the leader on a pedestal and even hide or ignore behaviors that are warning signs for increased substance abuse or mental illness in leaders. Also, leaders themselves often are concerned about appearing vulnerable or are too protective of their position and privacy and therefore delay recognition and treatment of symptoms.

Q: How can executives become more aware of their own mental health symptoms?

A: Becoming aware of signs including general difficulty at work, lack of focus, lack of sleep, changes in appearance, mood changes, and decreases in punctuality (as well as many other factors) is a central initial step to taking steps toward improving mental health.

Q: What privacy reassurances are there for executives who want to seek help for a mental health condition?

A: Employee assistance programs (EAPs) are all fully bound by rules of confidentiality and privacy to enable leaders to work through their challenges with no risk of unwanted disclosure. An effective EAP will also work to ensure that the individuals receiving treatment are able, if at all possible, to continue performing in their job roles while improving their mental health.

— Originally appeared in Arkansas Business’ Venture publication