World Mental Health Day | How can managers connect with employees and talk about mental health?

“Mental health is a universal human right”


The 10th of October is marked by the Mental Health Foundation as World Mental Health Day and this year’s theme is that mental health is a universal human right. The status of our mental health affects, and is affected by, all other aspects of our life, including our jobs.


As reported by the Mental Health Foundation, 1 in 6.8 people experience mental health problems in the workplace. It’s important to be able to build a support system of trusted friends and family to help us through tough times but that support system could also include our colleagues.


We spend most of our time at work and it’s important to build relationships with trusted co-workers that we can talk to – but there can sometimes be a disconnect between employers and employees. Below are a few tips that can help managers connect to employees and talk about mental health:


  • Watch out for signs to identify when an employee is experiencing mental health difficulties – It’s important to pay attention to the signs that an employee may be experiencing mental health troubles so managers can intervene as early as possible to prevent further risk. These signs can include negative changes in behaviour towards others, changes in work output, changes in their eating habits and signs of tiredness or low mood. Managers who work remotely with their team must keep a keen eye as signs can be easier to miss in a remote workplace.

  • Offer workplace adjustments – When an employee divulges that they are having trouble, there are a few things managers can do to make working life easier. This includes implementing changes to how the role is performed, like introducing flexible working hours, changes to the role itself like reallocation of task or increased training and extra support such as increased supervision time.

  • Encourage employees to seek further support if needed – while workplace adjustments and time off can help, some mental health problems are much more complex and long-lasting than others. If it seems like your employee may need further support encourage them to contact their local GP to find more information on the options available for them.

  • Change the culture in your workplace – A big factor in the improvement of the mental health of employees in the workplace is making sure the culture overall encourages openness. Employees must be able to feel like they won’t be punished for being vulnerable and sharing their mental health problems and asking for help. A tip that may help to encourage a more positive environment is for managers to share their vulnerabilities as well. Employees should also be encouraged to maintain a good work/life balance to lessen the likelihood of mental health problems appearing.


According to a study reported on by the MHFA England, 55% of employees who had experienced symptoms of depression said work had contributed, but only 36% had confided in their managers.


It is of the utmost importance that employees feel like they can speak to their seniors about any mental health issues they are experiencing in order to get the best out of each other.


For more information about the effects of a toxic work culture on the mental health of employees, check out this episode of the Mental Health Foundation’s Let’s Talk: Mental Health podcast, titled How a Damaging Work Culture can Affect Mental Health, available of iTunes and Spotify.

Author: Melena John


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