Leaders, Your Mental Health Matters Too
by Julia Schemmer
During high school, I fell in love with the idea of motivating others to use their skills and passions to achieve like-minded goals. As a result, I quickly found myself filling leadership positions in different clubs on campus, wearing different hats throughout the day to help the organization succeed. Since my sophomore year of high school, I have been heavily involved with school, church and extracurricular activities. While no means am I an authority on leadership, there are a few things I have learned along the way.
Don’t get me wrong, I love that from an early age I was challenged to take a more leader-like role in my community. Service-based leadership has radically transformed my life, and it is my ambition to do the same for others. However, as a result of trying to be there for everyone and keep the masses happy, often our mental health as leaders declines, and we do nothing about it.
Although you might force yourself to be perceived in a specific way around others, I challenge you to break that mold. Climb out of your ‘leader’ Jello mold that buys into the lie that we have to be perfect human beings and have it all together, and ask for help when it is necessary.
During the beginning of my fall quarter, I experienced a lot of traumatic events in a short amount of time. Although I noticed the events to begin to take a toll on my mental health, I was nervous to say anything because I didn’t want people to perceive me as weak, incapable or unfit for the leadership position I felt complete in fulfilling. I thought that holding in my emotions and saying yes to everything would eventually bury my feelings and make me invincible, but I was wrong.
Leaders, your mental health matters. I know it’s often difficult to ask for resources when you typically are the one to show people what to do, but it is absolutely worth it. You will not look weak or anything less than the incredible person you are. If anything, leading and still taking your mental health into consideration is inspirational and will show the people you trust that they can get resources too. It doesn’t reflect on whether or not you can be a good leader, if anything, it proves your natural leadership capabilities.
While I can’t say I understand what you are going through, I do understand the difficulties you might have in asking for help. I’ve been there, and it’s not fun. Take breaks. Vent to people. Cry. Write. Express yourself. You have a right to your emotions, just like anyone else.
You are not your leadership position or your organization or the amount of money you have raised. You are a human being with valid emotions and a purpose beyond explanation, and if you can give yourself the opportunity to see that, I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.