Workplace Mental Health Awareness with Ashish Kothari and Genevieve Bonin

Did you know many people don’t realize they’re close to burnout until it’s almost too late? High stress can hurt our ability to work well and make us miss more days at work. The issue is that many work environments push us too hard and don’t pay enough attention to our mental health. How can we change this and make our workplaces more supportive?

In this article, Ashish Kothari and Genevieve Bonin, Managing Director & Partner at Boston Consulting Group, shed light on these pressing issues around well-being at work and the much-needed prioritization of workplace mental health awareness.

Genevieve underscores the crisis with hard data, revealing that nearly 1 in 2 Canadians experience mental health illness by the time they are 40, and describes how 40% of Canadian workers between the ages of 18 and 24 feel like they’re at the mental health breaking point. What if we could turn the tide on this mental health crisis?

Combating poor mental health and well-being at work

Workplace stress is a big problem that’s affecting our organizations today, and it’s taking a toll on individuals’ mental health and well-being. It often comes from having too much work and tight deadlines, and Genevieve adds that unresolved conflict and poor leadership are two of the biggest influencers of poor mental health and well-being. 

This scenario often leads to a silent epidemic where employees suffer in isolation, not feeling safe to speak up about their struggles. The key lesson Ashish and Genevieve want to emphasize is the urgent need for workplace mental health awareness, where individual well-being is prioritized and discussed openly at work. 

As Ashish puts it, “It’s about creating a supportive environment where employees thrive,” underscoring that an organization’s health is directly linked to the well-being of its people. If we have to solve this crisis, we have to involve employers, fundamentally redesign workplaces, and help leaders lead differently.

The Concept of Generative Leadership

Combating workplace stress effectively starts with good leadership. Leadership is not all about giving orders or managing tasks. Leaders also play a crucial role in setting the tone for a stress-free environment. This is what the concept of Generative Leadership means, and it’s a great way to raise workplace mental health awareness. 

Genevieve highlights that generative leadership is a holistic approach where leaders consider three main aspects:

  1. Head – Leaders use their intellect to create strategies and set clear goals. Generative leaders think deeply about the best ways to serve the organization and its stakeholders.
  1. Hands – Generative leaders aren’t just planners; they’re also doers. They actively manage resources, oversee daily operations, and ensure the team is on track to meet its goals.
  1. Heart – Generative leaders are unique because they lead with empathy and compassion. They make it safe for employees to express their ideas and concerns and support them until they unlock their full potential.

What sets successful organizations apart from the rest? They invest in developing generative leaders who show up not just with authority but with empathy and heart, really considering what their teams need to thrive.

How organizations can prioritize well-being

When leaders prioritize the well-being of their teams, the entire organization benefits. Here’s the good news, according to Genevieve: increasingly, we are seeing that mental health and well-being are becoming a top priority in many organizations. These successful companies are implementing four key initiatives:

  1. Prioritizing Mental Health – Making it a core business imperative, not just an HR issue.
  2. Developing Generative Leaders – Investing in leaders who lead with empathy and consider their team’s needs—leaders who lead with their heads, hands, and hearts.
  3. Building Employee Resilience – Equipping staff with the tools and training to manage stress effectively.
  4. Providing Access to Support Systems – Offering counseling and peer networks to help employees cope.

Genevieve emphasizes that these initiatives bring a competitive edge by creating a healthier environment for all employees.

Creating Meaningful Employee Engagement

To start improving mental health awareness at work, it’s good to begin with simple, open conversations. Talking openly can help remove the stigma around mental health issues and encourage employees to share their own experiences. 

But for lasting changes to take place, these initial conversations need to turn into regular, ongoing discussions and actions. This helps keep the momentum going and ensures that mental health remains a key focus in the workplace.


Many organizations overlook that people are their most crucial asset. If our people are our biggest asset, shouldn’t we take care of their health just like we do with every other important part of our business? 

The health of your organization mirrors the health of your employees. It’s smart business to put employee well-being front and center. It’s a must-have for sustaining a competitive and thriving workforce. Are you ready to invest in the mental health and well-being of your team to drive true business success?

Why does it feel like our world is more divided than ever? In this article, Ashish Kothari and Diana Smith, Founder and Author of Remaking the Space Between Us, share ways to break down these walls and bridge our divides.

Learn more about Genevieve at her LinkedIn.

Listen to the podcast with Ashish and Genevieve below.

Access and subscribe to all of the episodes of the Happiness Squad Podcast here.

Visit the REWIRE Program powered up by the HAPPINESS SQUAD Community and experience your shift within your 30-day risk-free trial today. Cultivate your Self-Awareness, Gratitude, Purpose, Community, and personal growth more through the 9 Hardwired for Happiness practices. Integrate simple and proven micro-practices grounded in the science of happiness and neuroscience of habit formation in 5 minutes a day.

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With the focus on enhancing joy, health, love and meaning in your life, my transformational approach is interdisciplinary and integrates learnings from spiritual wisdom traditions, philosophy, positive psychology, neuroscience and organizational development.

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