Extractive summaries and key takeaways from the articles curated from TOP TEN BUSINESS MAGAZINES to promote informed business decision-making | Since September 2017 | Week 310 | August 18-24, 2023
Helping an Employee in Distress
By Kiran Bhatti and Thomas Roulet | Harvard Business Review Magazine | September–October 2023 Issue
Managers today are leading anxious workforces, with many employees grappling with stressors such as social isolation, inflation, an uncertain economic outlook, the lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and rapid technological advances. Managers often receive first aid training to address physical injuries in the workplace, but very few are armed with the skills to respond effectively to mental health crises that might arise within their teams. The need for such training is acute.
No one expects bosses to conduct therapy sessions with subordinates; as the phrase “first aid” suggests, the goal is to provide rudimentary, on-the-spot care until the individual can get professional help, if it’s necessary. This kind of support is particularly valuable right now, considering the difficulty many face in accessing adequate, timely, and affordable mental-health care. With the right training and tools, good managers can help reduce the gaps in treatment.
CBT focuses on the interconnections between someone’s cognitive state (thoughts and thought processes), mood state (emotions and feelings), physiological state (physical sensations in the body), and behavioral state (actions and behaviors). Using CBT, individuals take control of what they think and do, which can positively affect their emotional state and thus change their behavior, leading to a virtuous cycle.
CBT can help individuals identify and challenge their negative thoughts and develop alternative, balanced, and often more-realistic perspectives. At the same time, CBT encourages people to gradually challenge themselves by facing triggering social situations, allowing them to experience new thought patterns and behaviors and thereby gain confidence.
Managers can use principles from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in a three-step process to help employees improve their emotional well-being and to build a more supportive organization. Managers should start by acknowledging employees’ distress, thereby increasing the individuals’ own awareness of their mood and validating their feelings. Once a manager has acknowledged that an employee is in mental distress and has identified the maintenance cycles that feed it, the manager should facilitate a conversation about emotional well-being and help the employee recognize the sources of common mental-health issues in addition to the symptoms of them. When managers initiate conversations with employees about their well-being, they can introduce techniques that facilitate and encourage changes to employees’ mental health. One tool is cognitive reframing, a process of replacing unhelpful thoughts with a more realistic and balanced view of a situation.
3 key takeaways from the article
- Managers today are leading anxious workforces, with many employees grappling with enormous stressors. Managers often receive first aid training to address physical injuries in the workplace, but very few are armed with the skills to respond effectively to mental health crises that might arise within their teams. The need for such training is acute.
- Fortunately, the principles of frontline intervention are not as complex as one might think and can be readily learned by nonclinicians. Specifically, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a talking treatment that focuses on the connection between thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and behaviors, is increasingly being taught to managers as part of mental-health first-aid courses.
- Managers can use principles from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in a three-step process to help employees improve their emotional well-being and to build a more supportive organization: Acknowledging Poor Mental Health, Responding to Signs of Emotional Distress, and Chnging Behavior. But Making Sure Managers Don’t Overstep.
Topics: Managers, Psychology, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy