The stigma of admitting to the effects of stress or a diagnosed condition is profound. “Senior executives managing their disorders are dealing with their issues, and at the same time, they are putting up their guard,” says Wendy Murphy, head of the Human Resources Practice at RSR Partners, an executive search and leadership consulting firm. Organizations that want to better help high potential executives cope with mental illness need to have policies in place that are directed by a trusted chief people officer (or his or her equivalent), who has the ear of senior management. Those policies need to feed the human part of leadership – such as the candid conversations that let people set boundaries, ask for support, and take time-outs to care for themselves. “If those partnerships don’t exist, or if the executive is surrounded by the wrong people, the situation can bleed into risk.”
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