Psychological Safety vs Mental Health

Last week, we hosted the Webinar, Your People are Dealing with Anxiety. How Can You Help? We spoke with Liz Guthridge, founder of Connect Consulting and co-author of Leading People Through Disasters, and Dr. Jamie Madigan, Industrial-Organizational psychologist and Product Lead at LeaderAmp, to uncover more on the topic of Collecting Employee Feedback to help identify risk areas for Psychological Safety.

In the upcoming series of blog posts, we’ll be breaking down the four main topics we discussed:

  • Part 1: The difference between psychological safety and mental health
  • Part 2: Why we should be collecting employee feedback data
  • Part 3: What do you do once you’ve collected your data?
  • Part 4: How can we use what we’ve learned to shape the future of work?

To watch Part 1 of the conversation, check out the video below!

Psychological safety is not the same as mental health.

As Dr. Jamie Madigan explained, psychological safety is a climate or culture created by a group. In an atmosphere with trust and respect, we feel psychologically safe to do or say something considered “risky”. On the other hand, mental health is more about the individual and their unique mental state. Although an individual’s mental health is influenced by their environment, is not directly related to it the way an individual’s psychological safety is.

Psychological safety is the responsibility of everybody, not just our leaders and people managers.

With COVID-19, we’ve seen and heard many people saying, “We’re in this together.” If that’s the case, then we are all a team. It’s not only up to the coach or captain to create an environment where everyone else feels comfortable to participate and share challenging opinions. 

Simply put, today’s unpredictable situations are anxiety-inducing. We all, as teammates and coworkers and peers, are responsible for creating an environment that is psychologically safe and reduces the potential for anxiety to overwhelm people. As Liz explained, we need to be more compassionate to one another. We need to ask genuine questions to gauge how others are feeling, and make sure that they are aware of the professional services they go to if needed.

Try to ask yourself, are you creating an environment of psychological safety for those around you? If you’re unsure, the best thing you can do is open up that conversation and ask. “How are you feeling today?” We’ll dive deeper into that conversation next time.

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