Leaders play an important role in supporting mentally healthy work. Read more on the actions leaders can take to help create positive change in their workplace.

Everyone has a role to play in creating a mentally healthy workplace. Leaders can create mentally healthy and safe work environments by engaging with workers to create positive workplaces together. 

Including workers in the assessment, planning, and implementation of programmes and solutions is vital. People directly engaged in the work are often in the best position to identify specific risks and to help create effective solutions.

The importance of leadership

Leadership has an important role in creating and maintaining a mentally healthy work environment where workers thrive and feel supported. Leaders could include managers, team leads, chief executives, human resource practitioners, supervisors, business owners, health and safety representatives, and senior workers. 

Effective leaders can: 

  • Set the tone: leaders can choose to prioritise, recognise, and discuss mentally healthy work to influence workers’ efforts and focus. By proactively promoting mental wellbeing, leaders demonstrate its importance to the business.
  • Have an awareness of mental health: leaders need to understand and demonstrate awareness of their own and workers’ challenges, recognising the impact and importance of mental wellbeing.
  • Be proactive: leaders can inspire workers by leading by example, taking responsibility for their own and workers’ wellbeing, and demonstrating mentally healthy behaviours.
  • Normalise what success looks like: leaders can influence workplace environments by normalising actions and behaviours that align with desired values and goals. Communicating expectations in a way where they are understood by workers helps to promote an environment that fosters mental wellbeing.
  • Promote health: health promoting leadership includes providing healthy work conditions and supporting workers to engage in healthy behaviours.

Leaders can demonstrate their commitment to creating a healthy work environment by valuing fair treatment, being supportive, including workers in decisions, and designing work that benefits everyone. By prioritising mental wellbeing, workers can thrive, experience job satisfaction, and increase productivity.

Key elements to create mentally healthy work

By focusing on the following key elements, businesses can lay the foundation for a mentally healthy work environment that promotes mental wellbeing and engagement.

Supportive and competent leaders

Leaders that prioritise wellbeing, effectively managing workplace stress, understanding the needs of workers and respond to issues raised, have effective conflict resolution skills, recognise signs of harm, and encouraging open communication, support, and empathy.

Work is design for mental wellbeing 

The physical, cognitive, emotional, and social aspects of work are considered in work design and work processes prioritise health, safety, and work-life balance. Work is meaningful, autonomous, manageable, and adequately resourced.

Fair treatment and respect 

Workers are treated fairly and respectfully. Everyone has equal access to resources, supports and opportunities.

Workplaces that prioritise worker wellbeing 

Businesses prioritise workers’ mental wellbeing, promote safe and open discussion and offer support for mental wellbeing.

Inclusive decision-making

Workers are meaningfully included in decision making processes. Inclusivity is promoted and diversity is valued. Workers feel included, and that their voices are heard.

Further resources