At any given time, around one in every six employees will be experiencing a mental health problem.1 Employers can do a huge amount to help employees who are in this situation, and line managers and team leaders are in a particularly good position to provide support.
If you don’t feel confident about providing mental health support, you’re not alone – research by Bupa suggests that about a third of line managers would struggle to spot or know what to do if a member of their team had a mental health issue2. Here are some tips to help you get started, which you may want to follow up with further reading and training. We’ve also included relevant links to the wealth of information available on our workplace mental health hub.
Talk openly about mental health
Openness around mental health has come a long way in recent years and we’re more open to talking about it than ever before. But there’s still work to be done, so it’s important to keep that conversation going. By encouraging people to talk about mental health in the workplace, you can help shape the culture, attitudes and behaviours towards mental health in your organisation. And by removing the stigma surrounding mental health, you can help your employees to feel comfortable enough to approach you, should they need to talk. So don’t be afraid to have those open and honest conversations. We have more information about talking about mental health that you may find useful.
Lead by example
Some of your team members might be afraid to speak up about their mental health problems in fear that it may be seen as a sign of weakness or failure. As an employer, line manager, team leader or colleague, you can set an example for those around you. When senior leaders share their own experiences of mental health, it can signal to others that it’s OK to be human. By showing that you understand, you may make it easier for them to ask for help and give them the courage to speak up.
Many of us have been affected by mental health in some way throughout our lives. Whether it’s a personal experience or someone you know who has been affected. So it’s something we can all relate to. From relationships to families, pressures at work to worries at home – we all have good and bad days, successes and failures in life. So if someone at work is struggling, try to put yourself in their shoes. If you and others adopt this approach, you’ll build an empathetic culture and a sense of community. Your colleagues will know they’re part of an organisation that cares about their wellbeing – no matter what challenges life might throw at them.
Invest in training and education
Early intervention can play an important role in helping someone with a mental health problem in their recovery. So by teaching managers how to spot the signs of mental health problems and how they can help, you can help your employees to get the help they need as soon as possible. Only around one in every four line managers currently receive training for mental health problems.3 So why not put your company at the forefront of addressing mental health at work, by investing in training and education for your employees? Find out more about spotting the signs of poor mental health.
Supporting your employees with their mental health means being there during both good and bad times. Think about how you can support your people on an ongoing basis to be at the top of their game. Letting your employees know what’s available to them, both inside and outside of work, is important.
If someone in your organisation is struggling with their mental health, you may need to make some adjustments for them. Perhaps you need to make some changes to their environment or working hours, ensure they take time off, or facilitate their return to work to help them recover. Find out more about supporting employees.
1. How common are mental health problems? Mental health facts and statistics, Mind. www.mind.org.uk, accessed September 2018
2. Bupa leaders become first Mental Health First Aiders in UK. Bupa. newsroom.bupa.com, published August 2018
3. Business in the Community. Mental Health at Work Report 2017. National Employee Mental Wellbeing Survey Findings. https://wellbeing.bitc.org.uk/system/files/research/bitcmental_health_at_work_report-2017.pdf, published 2017