Trailblazing Organizations Supporting Political Leaders’ Mental Wellbeing
Helping politicians perform at the peak of their abilities for the sake of people and the planet.
Politicians carry the world on their shoulders, but they’re just people: mere mortals subject to the same human weaknesses as the rest of us.
In this list, we acknowledge and thank the organizations that have recognized and are addressing the importance of mental wellbeing in politics for citizens and democracy. We’ve also included a selection of organizations working on the issues that negatively influence mental wellbeing, particularly online harassment, lack of representation and feelings of isolation.
There are more organizations doing this important work than those we have compiled here. You will find many of them in the interventions and resources list included in our Mere Mortals: The State of Politicians’ Mental Wellbeing and Why It Matters report, which will be published on 6 December. Keep an eye out for the searchable interventions database that will be launched at the same time!
Do know of a program, resource or intervention working on politicians’ mental wellbeing? Send us an email at email@example.com and we’ll add it to our interventions and resources database.
MIND is a mental health charity that works to provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. It campaigns to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding of mental health. It has produced resources relevant for parliamentarians and staff to support constituents with mental health problems.
Rethink Mental Illness
Rethink Mental Illness is the leading charity provider of mental health services in England working to transform the lives of everyone severely affected by mental illness. Driven by people with experience of mental illness, they also campaign nationally and locally to push mental health up the public agenda and influence how the nation approaches mental illness. Together with the Royal College of Psychiatrists, it is the co-secretariat of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Mental Health.
HateAid is a non-profit organization for human rights in digital space that stands up against digital violence and its consequences at both social and political levels. It aims to strengthen democratic values by providing direct counseling and legal support in cases of digital violence, by raising awareness of problems in politics and society and by providing specific solutions for a better coexistence.
The Mindfulness Initiative
The Mindfulness Initiative works to bring mindfulness and contemplative practice to the heart of policy and decision making, creating a landscape that promotes the inclusion and development of mindfulness across governments, societies, and communities. The Mindfulness Initiative is the secretariat to the Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group in Westminster, initiating a programme of mindfulness training for MPs, Peers, and staff, and has authored formative reports on the benefits of mindfulness in politics and policy areas together with supporting a global network of mindfulness practitioners bringing mindfulness to legislature around the world.
The ELC, previously called the Elected Leaders Collective and now called ELC as it also works with civil servants, is an organization offering a range of workshops, coaching, and courses aimed at "healing our politics." Their programs, such as The Pride program, focus on fostering mindfulness, resilience, constructive empathy, and teaching elected leaders techniques to "bounce back" from challenges and effectively "drop in" to address important issues through mental fitness coaching.
RepresentWomen imagines a healthy 21st-century democracy in the United States with gender-balanced representation in elected and appointed positions at every level of government. They are committed to researching, understanding, and then championing the evidence-based solutions that break down structural barriers to women’s political leadership.
LGBTQ+ Victory Institute
LGBTQ+ Victory Institute works with local LGBTQI+ organizations in Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Brazil, the Balkans, Honduras, and South Africa as well as in the U.S. to achieve and sustain equality through leadership development, training, research, and convenings. They work around the globe to increase the number, expand the diversity, and ensure the success of out LGBTQ+ officials at all levels of government.
Auna is a platform, an incubator, and accelerator, that champions the new democratic representation practices of women leaders to improve social and environmental justice. It trains and supports a selection of women candidates with robust policy agendas to run for office, building across political ideologies and civil society. It has created a program for political coaching and a safe space for dialogue and consensus.
Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
A membership association which brings together Members, irrespective of gender, race, religion or culture, who are united by community of interest, respect for the rule of law and individual rights and freedoms, and by the pursuit of the positive ideals of parliamentary democracy. It published the Mental Health Toolkit for Commonwealth Parliaments, a comprehensive guide that provides guidance and resources for promoting mental health and wellbeing in parliamentary settings. It also conducts research and releases thought leadership on how to make Commonwealth parliaments more inclusive of, for example, women or people with disabilities and how to reduce harassment in parliaments.
Inner Development Goals
Inner Development Goals is a not-for-profit and open-source initiative. They research, collect and communicate science-based skills and qualities that help people to live purposeful, sustainable, and productive lives. The current IDGs framework represents 5 dimensions and 23 skills and qualities which are crucial for leaders who address SDGs.
Because of online abuse and disinformation, many women may decide against running for office, self-censor, or refrain from speaking out, while illiberal actors become bolder in their use of social media as a tool to silence opposition, roll back women’s rights, and erode democratic institutions. #ShePersisted publishes research and thought leadership on digital harms facing women leaders and the patterns, motives and modus operandi of gendered disinformation campaigns, supports women leaders in building digital resilience, and advocates for improved digital standards.
School of Politics, Policy and Governance
School of Politics, Policy and Governance is an unconventional school designed to attract, develop and produce a new generation of political leaders who will listen and serve the new class of citizens who know their rights. It works to educate future leaders and public officials across all levels of government dedicated to the good of the nation and serve as stewards of the wellbeing of all Nigerians.
Locale Learning is an Australian political leadership accelerator that equips local councillors with the 21st century leadership skills and mindset they need to succeed and have a positive impact for their communities. The Locale team works to humanise the political experience by providing elected leaders with innovative and interactive training and coaching. They have a strong focus on elevating skills in mental wellbeing, mindfulness in communication, conflict resolution and self-care. They regularly run complimentary webinars for elected leaders to gain practical experience in mindfulness and other mindset techniques to build resilience and sustain their service to the community.
WeBelong is a women-led initiative that provides mentoring, audits organizations for inclusion, and builds momentum for change. They offer several programs, including PowHer, an interactive leadership program catering to the distinctive aspirations and needs of young women from diverse backgrounds in Europe.
Politics in Colour
Politics in Colour is an Australian political leadership incubator that offers workshops designed specifically to address the challenges and barriers facing people from under-served communities considering a career in politics. They also organize candid conversations with diverse politicians, and offer mentoring and coaching.
New Zealand Parliament / Pāremata Aotearoa
Following several reviews and recommendations, the New Zealand parliament has Behavioral Statements that set expectations for how parliamentarians behave towards each other, while still allowing for free speech in Parliament. It also has an Induction Calendar for new members aimed at helping them understand their roles and responsibilities which includes sessions with mentors and senior MPs about what the role involves.
Arab Women Parliamentarians Networks for Equality / Ra’edat
A regional parliamentary network that advocates gender equality and the fair participation of women in policymaking in the Arab States region. The Network aims to unite the efforts of present and former parliamentarians to achieve parity in decision-making positions by 2030. It also aims to change the legislation that regulates the political environment, in particular the election laws for the houses of parliament, municipal councils and local governments, and the laws for political parties.
Pollicy functions at the intersection of data, technology and design to improve government service delivery. It researched and published a report, Byte Bullies, on online violence against women in the 2022 Kenyan elections by tracking and analyzing the online activities of more than 250 candidates.
Indian School of Democracy
Indian School of Democracy is a non-partisan organization that conducts programs for aspiring, grassroots political leaders. Its approach involves a focus on inner transformation by inviting participants to engage in reflection about their inner self, thoughts, emotions and actions; as well as building community to provide a group of mentors and supporters to participants when they run for political office.
Nominee is a learning platform on a mission to empower more people, particularly from underrepresented and marginalized communities, to run for office and make a difference in our communities. In partnership with Apathy is Boring and the Canadian Mental Health Association, Nominee is working on the topic of mental wellbeing in Canadian politics.
Center for American Women and Politics
At Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey is nationally recognized as the leading source of scholarly research and current data about women’s political participation in the United States. Its mission is to promote greater knowledge and understanding about the role of women in American politics, enhance women's influence in public life, and expand the diversity of women in politics and government.
This project is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Global Ideas Fund at CAF America. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of CAF America or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.