Crain’s Chicago Business
Experts who work with C-suite executives on life struggles and mental-health issues say that they're a bit different from mere mortals. They're used to success, not failure. They often can't or won't turn to others for help, out of pride and a concern for privacy. The consequences of needing and not seeking help can be grave. In May, DuPage Medical Group CEO Michael Kasper took his own life at age 46, after a career that included more than doubling revenue, to almost $1 billion annually, at the independent physicians group.
Suicide rates nationwide are rising steadily, to 14 per 100,000 individuals in 2017, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. White males account for nearly 70 percent of suicides, almost four times the rate of women. While the stigma surrounding mental health has lifted somewhat, it remains dangerous territory for high-level executives, more accustomed to solving problems than having them. ComPsych, a Chicago-based provider of employee-assistance programs, has a VIP version for top-level executives concerned about privacy. Only 1 to 2 percent of senior-level managers use the VIP package, says Dr. Richard A. Chaifetz, ComPsych founder, chairman and CEO. For general-population employees, usage of employee-assistance programs hovers between 6 and 10 percent.
Like most individuals, executives' issues tend to be about stress and anxiety, depression and challenges with work-life balance, experts say. It has proven helpful to talk about self-care (getting enough sleep and exercise and eating healthfully), working on communication skills, silencing their inner critics to reduce stress, mindfulness and learning to separate their self-worth from their work.