Investing in the mental health of your team

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I stopped watching football games like ~6 years ago when I was starting to realize that sitting on the couch doing nothing but watching a 90 minutes game is a waste of time and I can spend that time instead with my new addiction .. my computer.

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid CF - La Liga

Before losing interest in following football games and news, I was like most other boys in my age. following all European football games and spending the rest of my time playing football in real life and on the old play station 1.

Last week I tried to break the boredom and depression in my life and joined the folks watching the game between Real Madrid and Barcelona and the experience was good. I kept looking at the big screen for more than 90 minutes and wishing my old time favorite team “Real Madrid” would win the game, and for my surprise they won the game.

Watching a good game and talking about it with other people (specially, Barcelona fans) was entertaining and I decided to do that again from time to time. and here I’m writing this while watching another game between Real Madrid and Manchester United.

Actually I started writing this when I was listening to the commentator of the game talking about how big football teams use full time psychologist to make sure their players are always in their best mental conditions, because if the players are playing while in bad mood, their performance would go down.

It’s not the first time for me to know about that, but It’s my first time to relate this to work generally. I’ve been reading for years about how great companies try to make a great work environment for their employees to enjoy every moment of being part of that company. which comes back with benefits to the company in many different ways.

The first thing to come to mind when I talk about this topic is Joel Spolsky’s series of articles about building great place for software developers.  I even wrote about this topic before in 2010.

The 2 main conclusions I wanted to write about after watching the game are;

1. Money isn’t enough to make your team happy

While those football players are getting 7 figures salaries, and while they’re considered to be the best of the best in that industry, and that they shouldn’t be playing for fun as they’re professional players. still, this isn’t enough to make sure that they will play well and win games with high scores.

If they are sad, angry about something or having anything bad going around in their minds, they won’t play as expected, and all the other investments that their clubs invested in them would go with the winds.

That’s why clubs get full time psychologists to keep watching their players and taking care of their mental health.

2. Get your team a psychologist

Yeah, if you’re the CEO of a company or if you have the authority to get a psychologist psychiatrist to take care of your employees, then you should do it.

The best and most paid football players always need the support of a psychologist, and I’m sure that your team of software engineers, designers, marketers and every one else need to have a one meeting each month with a psychologist, at least. and if you’re a big company then I think that a full time psychologist would be a must.

The psychologist will be most valuable in those days when there’re conflicts between your team members, and when there’re tight deadlines that are putting great pressures on your teams. plus all the other daily personal stuff that may your employees be suffering of. didn’t you ever try working after having a fight with your wife/husband?! (for example)

You may agree with me about this or not, but I would do that someday in my startup when there’s enough budget, and would advise my CEO and other CEOs in other companies and startups to do the same.

update: from the comments and discussions, I found that what I meant to say originally is to use a psychologist. my use of the word psychiatrist wasn’t accurate.

12 Comments Investing in the mental health of your team

  1. Orion Blastar

    There is a lot of discrimination against the mentally ill. When I developed schizo-affective disorder I was seen as less valuable and then fired as soon as I had a panic attack from stress. I was forced on disability because no employer in my area knew how to manage the mentally ill.

  2. Barry Goldstein

    Stupendous Shreef! I am hereby submitting my application for the future job. My name is Barry and I am a Clinical Psychologist. I have spent a good portion of my career working with organizations. In fact, I am writing you now from New Zealand where I am consulting to a large television production company.

    I have worked for Nokia Mobile Phone (in their 90's boom), Omelette Media company and dozens of television networks and production companies. I find a fundamental difference between companies who care in this particular manner. First, it sends a signal to the team that the well being of the employees is essential. The organization by hiring someone to guard the emotional health of the group, signals that they understand that no one can produce their best in distress. No one can thrive while struggling emotionally.

    But also, don't underestimate a clinician's capacity for increasing the quality of even the best employee. We can help set challenging, but appropriate goals, help analyze the human side of systems, and help challenge and guide high achievers. We also are great at helping set up succession plans for leaders, and identify high potential employees for advancement and training.

    Thanks for spreading the word! I love the discussion and am happy to continue to talk about it.

  3. orbital

    Therapist or psychologist would be the appropriate position. You don't want a conflict of interest, and a psychiatrist who prescribes medicine, no matter how good, will have in his or her best interest not the mental health of the patient but the repeat business. Once put on addicting "medicine" (anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, anti-bullshit-PTSD-that-doesn't-even exist, etc.) it's easy money. You might be able to mitigate this in the company, but I doubt it. Many times this is done subconsciously.

    1. Shreef

      Yeah, I think the right word was "psychologist". I didn't understand before the main deference between both of them.

      thanks, I did update the article.

      1. Orion Blastar

        A psychologist talks things out and tries to solve problems. A psychiatrist writes scripts for medication to treat chemical imbalances.

        Then there are analysts and therapists, and then people who are both and called analrapists, but don't call them that, just don't because when you combine the words together it sounds like something criminal. :)


    When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox

    and now each time a comment is added I get three e-mails with the same comment.

    Is there any way you can remove people from that service?

    Many thanks!

    1. Shreef

      I'm sorry. comments and their notifications are handled by and looks like the emails you get are the result of a problem with their servers. please contact them to stop sending you more emails as looks like there's no way for me to do that from my dashboard.

  5. Matilda Boelter

    Your primary competence and kindness in touching every aspect was crucial. I'm not sure what I would have done if I hadn't come upon such a solution like this. It's possible to at this point relish my future.

  6. Springdaleclnc

    Yes, i agree with you, now a days each and every company must recruit or provide the services of a Psychologist. Not only in food ball clubs, the need of psychologist is everywhere. This polluted lifestyle causing most of the mental illness to the employers and that reducing their performance as well as the the profits of the companies. Recruiting or providing the services of psychologist will save the lives of both company and the employer.


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