My mental health was suffering because of a coworker with a position of power who made everyone’s lives miserable there, and a director who did nothing about it.

I loved everything about the responsibilities of my job. It was a grind, it was stressful, I worked long, exhausting hours, but it was rewarding. I supervised new therapists who worked with foster children and I loved it. But I still found myself increasingly more depressed and anxious- not because of the long hours or the emotional heaviness of the work. My mental health was suffering because of a coworker with a position of power who made everyone’s lives miserable there, and a director who did nothing about it. After years of feeling exhausted and defeated by not being able to cultivate a healthier workplace for my clinicians and myself, and after suffering a miscarriage and realizing I did not have the bandwidth the continue dealing with the toxicity there, I decided to leave.

Your boss plays a significant role in shaping your work environment and can have a significant impact on your mental health. A good boss can provide support, guidance, and opportunities for growth, while a bad boss can contribute to stress, anxiety, and burnout. Here are a few ways your boss can impact your mental health:

  1. Communication: A boss who is clear, open, and responsive in their communication can help reduce stress and promote a positive work environment. On the other hand, a boss who is dismissive, unapproachable, or lacks effective communication skills can cause undue stress and contribute to feelings of isolation and frustration.

  2. Workload: A boss who assigns manageable workloads and provides clear expectations can help you feel empowered and motivated in your work. Conversely, a boss who assigns unrealistic deadlines and excessive workloads can contribute to burnout and stress.

  3. Support and feedback: A boss who provides regular feedback and coaching can help you grow professionally and improve your work. A boss who neglects to provide constructive feedback and support can leave you feeling unappreciated and unvalued.

  4. Work culture: A boss who creates a supportive and inclusive work culture can improve employee morale and well-being. A boss who perpetuates toxic work environments, such as promoting a culture of negativity, bullying, or discrimination, can have a negative impact on mental health.

It’s important to recognize the impact your boss can have on your mental health and take steps to protect and improve it. This may include seeking out support from coworkers or HR, setting boundaries with your boss, or finding ways to manage stress and maintain your well-being outside of work. And if nothing seems to make a difference, it might be time to consider other job possibilities if any exist. If you feel stuck in an unhealthy work environment, you may benefit from talking to a therapist or joining an open process therapy group.

Kaci Smith, LMFT

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About the Author: Kaci Smith
I’ve been working as a therapist and clinical supervisor, serving clients of all ages and backgrounds, and supporting dozens of aspiring therapists with their own professional journeys, for over a decade now. After the birth of my first child in 2020, I became increasingly more passionate about working with mothers and women. I created Women’s Therapy California to offer quality, affordable, and flexible online drop-in group therapy services for women across California.

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