5 Ways Leadership Development Delivers U. S. Surgeon General's Mental Health Essentials

The Surgeon General's five essentials for workplace mental health come at a critical time. As employers try to improve retention and engagement, leadership training is key to fulfill those mental…

5 Ways Leadership Development Delivers U. S. Surgeon General's Mental Health Essentials

MIAMI, FLORIDA - Dr. Vivek Murthy, U.S. Surgeon General, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services ... [+] participates in Addressing the Mental Health Crisis conversation during 2022 Concordia Americas Summit (Photo by Jason Koerner/Getty Images for Concordia Summit)Getty Images for Concordia Summit

As President Biden's U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy reprised his role under the Obama Administration from 2014 to 2017. Murthy also chaired Biden's Covid-19 Advisory Board and was a long-time advisor to Biden during the pandemic. Recently, the Surgeon General published his framework for workplace mental health and well-being, providing an overview of five components that re-imagine workplaces as engines of well-being and create supportive and sustainable mental health. Research shows that 76% of American workers have at least one symptom of a mental health condition, 84% say their workplace conditions contribute to at least one mental health challenge and 81% report that they will be looking for workplaces that support mental health in the future. The Surgeon General's five essentials for workplace mental health and well-being is designed to address these statistics and the mental health crisis. Protection from Harm. Prioritizing physical and psychological safety, enabling adequate rest, normalizing and supporting mental health and operationalizing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility norms, policies and programs. Connection and Community. Creating cultures of inclusion and belonging, cultivating trusted relationships and fostering collaboration and teamwork. Mattering at Work. Providing a living wage, engaging workers in workplace decisions, building a culture of gratitude and recognition and connecting individual work with organizational mission. Opportunity for Growth. Offering quality training, education, and mentoring, fostering clear and equitable pathways for career advancement, ensuring relevant and reciprocal feedback.

These essentials come at a critical time when employers are trying to improve retention and engagement while workers are prioritizing their mental health. As the CEO of The National Society of Leadership and Success, Neil Khaund believes leadership development is the key to fulfilling every need outlined in the report. 'Leaders need to treat workplace well-being not just as a way to boost performance or enhance retention but also as a critical part of their social responsibility,' Khaund says. Here's how he envisions a leadership training program can help businesses follow the U.S. Surgeon General's essentials for workplace mental health and well-being:

Protection from harm. Leadership training can teach employees to strengthen their emotional resilience to support a sense of safety in a changing world. Providing such training also makes employees feel more supported and safe at their workplaces. Mattering at work. Leadership development helps professionals better clarify both their passions and their skills. Knowing what they're good at and what they care about helps employees focus on how their contributions can help carve out a role that fulfills them and helps their teammates and bosses. This ultimately creates more satisfaction in both areas--the recipe for a harmonious and more rewarding life. Connection and community. A key component of leadership development is practicing soft skills with like-minded people, which forms lasting bonds through vulnerability and shared growth. The friendships made during leadership training can become the foundation of a robust professional network and work community.

Opportunity for growth. Leadership development programs aid growth by equipping people with the mindset needed to advance in the workplace. Companies that invest in leadership training offer their teams the building blocks of personal and professional fulfillment, which, in turn, leads to higher ROI.

'Throughout my career, I've seen leadership training improve the five essentials for workplace well-being outlined in the U.S. Surgeon General's guidelines,' Khaund concludes. 'I believe it's time to reframe leadership development as more than a tool for career advancement or improving productivity--and as a key to thriving in the workforce and creating a more fulfilling life. Organizations can offer leadership development as their contribution to the movement prioritizing mental health and well-being. One way or another, society is shifting to put people first. Organizations that spearhead this movement by offering leadership development will ultimately be more successful and have happier, healthier workers."