Knowing that the boss has suffered from mental ill-health and has still succeeded can be hugely empowering for employees, showing them that having a mental health disorder doesn’t need to be a barrier to doing well at work, according to RedArc. As such, the company is calling for more C-suite staff to talk about their own anxiety, depression and stress-related mental health problems.

According to research from the Chartered Management Institute, as many as one in ten managers have taken sick leave for stress and mental health issues. It is easy to understand why C-suite staff may suffer with mental health problems: massive responsibilities for others, long and anti-social hours, pressure to perform, and isolation are all relevant factors.

Historically, senior staff would have been reluctant to go public with information about the state of their mental health for fear of being questioned about suitability, investor pressure, longevity in the role etc. However RedArc believes it is time that the tables turned and bosses should be more vocal – especially as many employees may not ordinarily see these struggles.

Christine Husbands, managing director, RedArc Nurses said: “Mental health doesn’t discriminate by seniority, and being honest and open about these issues serves two purposes. First of all it is one of the most direct ways to reduce the workplace stigma around mental health and secondly it shows that having a mental health issue isn’t the end of a career.”

Early intervention

RedArc also believes that when the boss exposes his own condition, it may also help employees to be more aware of their own mental health and to recognise symptoms in themselves which they hadn’t necessarily realised were early signs of a potential problem. This in turn means that the employee may be able to seek early interventions to prevent the mental health issue from escalating in to something more serious: RedArc’s experience shows that mental health problems are much more easily supported if they are identified as early as possible.

Husbands continued: “Allowing staff to see the person behind the persona is important in breaking down the taboos in mental health. It’s also an excellent way to lead on to conversations about what support is available via the employer – be that building resilience via self-help techniques and apps or accessing specialist mental health support.

“When the boss opens up about their own emotional wellbeing and mental health needs, it is seen as giving permission for all staff do the same. Once these conversations are out in the open, the employer is then able to empathise and provide support and encouragement in helping staff work through their problems and be the best they can be in the workplace.”