In less than a year, I survived three suicide attempts, was involuntarily hospitalized at a psychiatric hospital, lost my mother-in-law to COVID, and managed to write a book, start a new one, run a business and start a non-profit. And those were just the highlights! I often stop and ask myself why I continue to push myself during times when I should be pausing, reflecting, and healing. The answer is that I’ve always been told to be strong and resilient through tough times. Ultimately, the expectation of being strong and resilient is catching up with all of us as we’ve been plagued with various challenges and obstacles over the past couple of years. In addition to a global pandemic, I wasn’t the only one experiencing grief, job insecurity, anger over the political landscape, inflation, and disappointment with the continuing epidemic of unprecedented mass shootings and police brutality against Black people. It’s no wonder that in 2022, there was a 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.
Despite all of the obstacles I’ve previously stated, organizations have failed to appropriately address these challenges along with the increasing demands of work that are compromising the mental well-being of the workforce. Instead of addressing these issues head-on, organizations have relied on promoting resilience to help their employees deal with these challenging times. Being resilient means that you can recover quickly from difficulties and challenging situations; in the workplace, resiliency is a highly sought-after trait. But is promoting resiliency just an effortless way to avoid addressing cultural factors contributing to the mental health crisis in the workplace? The short answer is yes, and it can be dangerous. Resiliency forces a person to “push through” adversity instead of addressing situations that can lead to long-term job-induced trauma.
Organizations should shift from promoting being resilient while navigating toxic and unhealthy work environments to cultivating cultures of mental wellness through intentional, strategic efforts. Whether you are an organizational leader or individual contributor, there are more effective ways to cultivate cultures of mental wellness than resiliency. Here are some tips. ⬇️⬇️⬇️
So, the next time you notice that your workforce is burned out or facing difficult times in or outside the workplace, be careful to encourage them to stay strong and resilient. Instead, ask them, “what can I do to support you?”
Natasha Bowman is a renowned mental health advocate and leadership development expert and author of the best-selling book, The Power of One: Leading with Civility, Candor, and Courage.