The Most Important Workplace Conversation: Our Mental Health


Have you wondered why your workplace isn’t much better than your friend’s, yet the grass always seems to look greener? Or why the majority of employees are checked out at work today? It’s because we aren’t talking about the most important thing at work: everyone’s mental health.

If mindset is the most important thing to creating winning cultures, then why aren’t we talking about mental health as a key performance indicator of organizational success?

What do you think of when you hear the words “mental health?” To many people, mental health screams stigma and craziness because of the way it has been portrayed in movies for years. Americans also tend to have it worse because duty was and is a staple of our ethnocentric view of success, impeding the ability to express vulnerability and inclusive views that make every human — no matter how rich or poor — feel safe and heard.

As we ignore the importance of mental health in the workplace, we continue to see depression rise and stress being recognized as a top health epidemic of our time. According to Jeffrey Pfeffer, Ph.D. of Stanford, some workplace conditions may even result in premature death. Isn’t it interesting how we can talk about cancer all day, yet we can’t talk about what might be spreading cancer in the first place (i.e., stress)?

It’s easy to talk root cause analysis in business, yet the western view thinks it can separate mind-body-spirit as if they were made in different assembly plants. It’s for this reason that I speak nationally on the importance of brain health for business leaders — because it is the most important thing that makes or breaks companies today.

Before my business life, I was critically injured as a firefighter. I never received counseling, and I had no idea the trauma my body endured and the trauma I saw would catch up with me because, in health care, the mind and body are taught to be separate. Healing naturally, seeking out top experts and truth, I transformed my life from firefighter to Fortune 150. Today, I coach business leaders on how to break through trauma so it does not creep into the workplace as negative projection — something that’s seen all too often in toxic workplaces.