By Roy Wells 


Team Triad has been focused on mental health issues in our communities as we assist Magellan Health meet the behavioral health care needs of Pennsylvania Medicaid recipients. Also by working to protect victims’ rights as a result of our representation of Marsy’s Law, we are keenly focused on increased incidences of domestic violence that will, in part, be driven by increasing stress levels.

My friends at the Arbinger Institute have been an important aspect of my lifelong learning journey. They have stepped up during this period of economic upheaval with a series of webinars to assist everyone navigating through these uncertain times. Whether you are the CEO of a fortune 500 company or a student who is home trying to maintain their studies, you are certainly under tremendous stress. The dramatic changes in our daily lives and the accompanying anxiety are consequently affecting us all.

A recent webinar, led by Desmond Lomax, CHMC, has lessons for all of us who are sheltering in place across the country. As the leader of a team of individuals dispersed across Pennsylvania and New Jersey, it is extremely important to understand how my colleagues are managing their stress, but as important, how I am managing my own. Like many of you, I am navigating my company through a period of uncertainty. Like many of you, I am stressed about meeting payroll, making sure my family, friends and colleagues are safe and healthy, maintaining the appropriate social distancing on the sidewalk, or in a pharmacy and grocery store. All of this stress may not be evident on the surface, but it is certainly below the surface and should be addressed. Left unattended, the consequences could be significant.

Lomax addresses healthy parasympathetic activities, like walking outside, getting moderate sun exposure, deep breathing, low-key music, laughing, meditation, and yoga as ways to remove stress. If we engage in these activities for as little as five minutes a day, we can significantly reduce our stress levels. Whether you are the leader of a family, team, or company, Lomax argues that you must address your own stress, before you can assist others in reducing theirs.

As leaders, once we address the stress we are experiencing, we can assist in addressing the stress of our team members. The most important aspect of helping others, is by having a relationship with them. When you truly understand what their needs, wants, objectives, and desires are, when you truly see them as people, and not just objects helping you meet your needs, wants, and desires, you will be best positioned to reach out to them and engage. If you have built a relationship with your colleagues and employees, a level of trust will exist. You will be more successful reaching out and assisting if you have established that bond.

As leaders, we should be checking in with our team members. We should first ask them the question of how they are doing. We need to take the time to listen and learn what is going on. By listening and learning, you are creating an authentic connection with them. Lomax emphasized that isolation from the team, or simply isolation in our homes, will lead to burnout. We need to make our people feel connected to us, and to each other. If you are grateful for the team of people you lead, now is the time to show your gratitude.

Assume that everyone around you is stressed. Take the time to establish or re-establish your connections. Take the time to build and strengthen your relationships. Take the time to show your team how much you care and show them gratitude for the work they are performing in what may be the most stressful time in their lives. And please do me one favor, do your part to keep yourself, and everyone around you safe and healthy. We are all in this together.