Finding Resources to Support Behavioral Health
There are many credible and accessible resources to support behavioral health, but the key, Duane said, is to “find the resources that work for you.”
Some resources they recommended include Anxiety and Depression Association of America and Google’s emotional intelligence program, which is available via a nonprofit called Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute. Since media exposure also impacts behavioral health, uplifting media sources can be helpful, such as Some Good News with John Krasinski, David Byrne’s Reasons to be Cheerful, and Dolly Parton’s Good Night with Dolly.
Additionally, many companies offer behavioral health resources for employees, but these resources are often underutilized. “My hope is that the difficulty people are experiencing leads people to access these resources,” Duane said.
“The key takeaway is to find something that uplifts you and then do it,” he added. And choose something that’s truly most important to you—not something you think you should do. “Most importantly, don't turn your fear and anxiety into another arena for beating yourself up. Meet your difficulty with kindness and softness and not self-harshness.”
Supporting Employees with Empathetic Leadership
Functioning during a crisis includes managing emotions skillfully. Every employee is facing anxiety and stress differently based on their situations; some employees are caring for elderly relatives, taking on homeschooling their children while working full-time, or dealing with the challenges of being with roommates 24/7.
For leaders to support employees and help them feel like they are part of a compassionate team, Marques said, “It's crucial to listen, validate, and normalize the emotional experience.” She added, “In chronic stress, you have a lot of emotions. Allow those emotions to exist, and reach out to people” because pushing emotions away will make them much worse.
Duane added that work teams need “calm, clear reasoning, trust, and compassion,” and added, “we have a big crisis to get through with the possibility of making real positive, systemic change.” To do that, “we need to accommodate challenging emotions and not suppress them.”
Valuing Employees’ Emotional Wellbeing Isn’t Optional
In the workplace, historically, emotions like anxiety and stress were considered complexities that needed to be removed, and wellbeing and sustainable performance programs were viewed as nice-to-haves, not necessities.
But it’s clear now that to be well positioned strategically for what’s to come after this crisis, placing high value on emotional intelligence is mandatory. The future is radically unknown, but companies that encourage emotional intelligence will be better prepared to manage a complex system. As Duane emphasized, not only is it the right thing to do, “it's good for business.”
“We're having a global experience of interdependence and interconnectedness; we're seeing that some of our key systems are quite brittle,” said Duane; “we're going to need an effort after this crisis part is over, that's going to make the Marshall Plan look small.”
He added that to accomplish what’s needed in the future, “we have to harness our emotions and be ready to step into that world of positive change.”