Behavioral health leadership: new directions in occupational mental health

Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2014 Oct;16(10):484. doi: 10.1007/s11920-014-0484-6.


The impact of stress on mental health in high-risk occupations may be mitigated by organizational factors such as leadership. Studies have documented the impact of general leadership skills on employee performance and mental health. Other researchers have begun examining specific leadership domains that address relevant organizational outcomes, such as safety climate leadership. One emerging approach focuses on domain-specific leadership behaviors that may moderate the impact of combat deployment on mental health. In a recent study, US soldiers deployed to Afghanistan rated leaders on behaviors promoting management of combat operational stress. When soldiers rated their leaders high on these behaviors, soldiers also reported better mental health and feeling more comfortable with the idea of seeking mental health treatment. These associations held even after controlling for overall leadership ratings. Operational stress leader behaviors also moderated the relationship between combat exposure and soldier health. Domain-specific leadership offers an important step in identifying measures to moderate the impact of high-risk occupations on employee health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior*
  • Combat Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Leadership*
  • Mental Health
  • Military Personnel / psychology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / prevention & control*