Project Management

How to Address Mental Health in Project Management

Robert is the President of Quokka Systems Consulting Ltd. in Vancouver.

Recently, I opened the 976-page PDF of the PMBOK® Guide from 2021 and performed a search for "mental health." There were no entries. I then looked for "health," and there were 15. Two were in the disclaimer area, and the others were scattered in various categories covering safety and health management, health and safety policies, health of the project, and health as an industry.

For definitions of anything medical, I rely on old standbys like the CDC:

"Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices."

What made me think of doing this was the increase in focus on mental health during the pandemic and how it might influence project effectiveness. From a PMP standpoint, it seems health is managed only if regulated. For instance, if you are involved in an office renovation project, you may have specific guidelines for everything from air flow to the spacing of desks and hallways to meet health and safety guidelines.

However, this is what you do for the consumers of the project goals. What about the project team in its extended form? In large projects, the project manager interacts with many people from many areas of the enterprise, including external service providers.

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"If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties."

- Francis Bacon