When an employee experiences a mental health problem, standing by them sends an important message about your company values and culture.

I previously wrote about mental health awareness in the workplace, where I emphasised strong leadership and management as a key factor in promoting employee well-being.

In reality, though, many managers lack:

  • Awareness of mental health in the workplace
  • Confidence in dealing with potential mental health issues, or in challenging the status quo of embedded attitude within the workplace
  • Experience to identify and manage these issues alone
  • Knowledge on legislation relating to disclosing a mental health problem and avoiding discrimination

Equipped with the right tools, resources, and most importantly, the right attitude, managers can create an environment where employees feel able to talk about how they feel and share concerns. These can be very powerful early prevention techniques

Regular 1-1 catch-ups are a great way to ask team members how they’re getting on and spot any potential signs of stress, anxiety or depression

Commitment from the Top

Having an open and supportive culture at the heart of your business will help employees feel more confident talking to managers and/or colleagues. This doesn’t happen overnight but here are a few tips to get the ball rolling…

  • Introduce a well-being strategy focused on improving mental health in the workplace
  • Have a clear message on the importance of employee well-being at induction stage. This will increase awareness from the outset and ensure people know where they can find support, or to whom they can reach out
  • Your physical workspace is also important as lighting, temperature and greenery all play a role in how we feel
  • Champion and get involved with campaigns such as Heads Together

Tools for Managers

  • Managers need to be approachable and take steps to normalise conversations about mental health. Encouraging regular 1-1 catch-ups is a great way to ask team members how they’re getting on and spot any potential signs of stress, anxiety or depression.
  • Act quickly – if people receive support straight away, this can often steer them away from developing a more serious problem
  • Managers are best placed to monitor sickness absence which can help identify if someone is experiencing difficulty. Mind and other similar organisations provide mental health training to employers on how they can actively promote mental well-being in the workplace.
  • Educate employees on the techniques and resources available to help improve mental health. For example, apps such as Stress & Anxiety Companion provide valuable tools to help individuals better understand and look after their personal mental health
  • Counselling through employee benefits such as Employee Assistant Programmes (EAPs) or via insurance schemes for small businesses who also offer this benefit
  • Risk assessments in liaison with professional occupational health advisors or physicians

Return to Work Support

Managers need to be considerate of on-going support needs for any individual returning to work after mental health problems.

  • Discuss and agree a plan for the individual’s care
  • Putting reasonable workplace adjustments in place can also help. These include flexible hours, change of workspace, extra training/mentoring, redeployment etc. depending on the circumstances
  • Encourage employees to seek professional help and provide links to support organisations

Well-being in the workplace is key to managing people, but it’s about more than putting the right policies in place and running a ‘training’ event. Tassic can help support your managers by sharing insights and helping you develop a culture which, should a problem occur, gives you a point of reference. We can also help you pinpoint root causes such as heavy workload, change, management style, workplace relationships etc.

We are here to help