Mental Health Awareness Week – Resilience and Leadership

Mental Health Awareness Week 2021

This week is ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’ and while we shouldn’t really need an event to raise awareness of the stigma that exists around mental health issues, it is equally important to address the issues surrounding mental health. People struggle with their mental health for a variety of reasons. Employees and managers may be overwhelmed and people need to look after their colleagues’ and their own mental health as much as possible.

The CIPD People Managers’ Guide to Mental Health (In collaboration with MIND) is an excellent resource that sets out good practice and guidelines to help managers understand and overcome the challenges of mental health problems in the workplace.

Mental Toughness and Resilience

There are key leadership skills that can help you and your team be more resilient to the challenges we face and develop mental toughness. The term ‘Mental Toughness’ conjures up images of the stiff upper lip, to just ‘get on with it’ and to not show any weakness.

However this is not the case; resilience and mental toughness are skills that can be learned through pragmatic training of the mind. By looking after your well being, managing stress, understanding your emotional reactions and challenging your beliefs, you can develop the tools required to face challenges and be more resilient to what life and work throws at you.

There are many ways that you can improve your mental resilience. The 4Cs model of mental toughness is the most widely used model for defining and measuring mental toughness. It comprises four components: confidence, control, commitment and challenge.

Getting the basics right is also essential, such as eating and sleeping well, exercising regularly, managing stress, meditation, self care and problem solving (when possible).

Below is a video from one of our 20Twenty team, mental toughness and performance coach Andy Mccann, who has coached world class sports performers and military personnel.

Andy McCann at the 20Twenty Business Growth Programme

We’ve compiled a reading list on mental resilience and mindset suggested by some of our 20Twenty Team members to help you develop these skills further:

1.  The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management, Prof Steve Peters

2.  Developing Mental Toughness: Improving Performance Wellbeing and Positive Behaviour in Others, Peter Clough and Doug Strycharczyk

3.  Emotional Resilience – How To Safeguard Your Mental Health, Dr Harry Barry

4.  What Businesses Can Learn from Sport Psychology: Ten Lessons for Peak Professional Performance, Martin Turner and Jamie Barker

The Work-Life Blur

For many, the line has become increasingly blurred between work and home, it’s important to take some steps to prevent overload and stress:

  1. Stick to a routine – Without routine it’s easier to fall into a more chaotic lifestyle. While it’s good to make the most of the working from home benefits and have a more flexible schedule; it’s still important to get dressed, exercise and take regular breaks as you would during in a normal working day.
  2. Switch off – It’s tempting to work all hours when the line between work and home is more blurred, but this can negatively affect mental health. Try to draw a line between work and home and make a concerted effort to switch off in the evenings and weekends. Also, take annual leave when it’s needed.
  3. Be kind to yourself – Remember that you won’t always get it right and you may well feel stressed and overwhelmed. These are normal human emotions. We have all had to adapt to different circumstances so if things don’t go well, give yourself plenty of leeway, and don’t strive for perfection.

It’s OK not to be OK

Finally, whether you’re a leader or not, working from home or not, it may be that you’re struggling to cope right now. If you’re not OK then reach out to a line manager and try and explain your situation, many organisations have systems in place to support mental health issues. There’s also a range of support out there and people you can speak to. The first step really is reaching out to get help. If you can’t do this in work, it can be anyone you feel comfortable confiding in. Remember that mental health affects everyone!

Useful Links:

The CIPD People Managers’ Guide to Mental Health

MIND – Coronavirus: supporting yourself and your team.


Coronavirus (COVID-19): Mental health and returning to the workplace