Each month, a member of the Business Women’s Forum Steering Committee writes a guest article related to their experience and expertise as a woman in business. This month’s article was written by Jennifer Holmberg, Development Director at Project Connection. 

May marks Mental Health Awareness Month. With each passing month comes a new theme, but this one holds special significance for me. Working at Project Connection, a nonprofit mental health agency, I witness firsthand how our mental well-being impacts not just our lives but also our families and communities.

As women in leadership roles, there is often an expectation that we can handle everything. We are expected to balance a family, a demanding career, friendships, marriages, caregiving for elderly parents, maintaining physical health and more. This pressure to excel in every aspect of life can significantly affect our mental health.

I recently spoke with our Executive Director, Lennie Knowlton, CMHC, CDWF, about strategies for navigating leadership while prioritizing our mental health. She suggests the following approaches to maintain mental wellness and succeed professionally:

“To excel as leaders, especially as women in positions of influence, it’s crucial to embrace vulnerability as a catalyst for growth. Acknowledge that it’s okay to not have all the answers and to feel many emotions. Authenticity in leadership requires acknowledging and addressing our own needs while effectively managing responsibilities.

“Taking time for self-reflection and connecting with supportive networks can help navigate the complexities of leadership while preserving mental well-being. As you continue your leadership journey, remember that prioritizing self-care is not a sign of weakness but a testament to strength and resilience.”

Lennie also recommends taking a four-step approach to navigating leadership and mental health:

  1. Embrace your superpowers: What are the skills you harness as a leader? How were they imprinted by your family of origin?
  1. Claim your mess: What are the situations where your superpowers may negatively affect your mental health? How might this look “messy” to others?
  1. Identify whose opinion matters: When you are a leader, there are times others rely on you to have a plan and keep it together. Therefore, it is important to have identified people who you can be vulnerable, authentic and emotional with. These can be family, friends or other leaders.
  1. Self-care strategies: What people and practices rejuvenate you? Establish deliberate and regular times to engage.

Navigating the intersection of leadership and mental health is a dynamic process that requires self-awareness and intentional action. By embracing our strengths and prioritizing self-care, we empower ourselves to lead authentically while nurturing our well-being. Let us continue to advocate for a culture that values both strong leadership and mental health support in professional settings.

About Jennifer Holmberg

Jennifer is a business professional with over 20 years of management
experience in banking, outdoor retail, business administration, consulting
and veterinary hospital management. Currently, she is the Director of
Development for a local nonprofit mental health agency, Project
She loves collaborating with others, solving problems and
creating new opportunities for connection and growth. She is enthusiastic
and energetic about her work and loves facilitating the growing network of
community connections for Project Connection.

Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her family, exercising,
reading, listening to music, being outside hiking, paddle boarding, rock
climbing and traveling.