It’s important to talk together about how to approach any work-related difficulties and offer some suggestions and options.
If your employee is very upset, they might prefer to continue the discussion another time. Check what they need and whether they would like to take a break before going back to work.
Example phrases and questions:
- Would you like to talk about how we can help you now, or would you prefer to talk more another time?
- What do you think would help make things easier for you right now?
- Are you feeling OK to return to work or would it help to have a break and a walk or a cup of tea? Would it help to ask someone to go with you?
- Have you heard of a Wellness Action Plan? Lots of people use them to help them stay well at work. We can develop one for you together if you like?
You should also make sure that employees are aware of support options. Make sure your own knowledge is up to date too.
- Your organisation’s mental health policies and procedures. It might help to talk these through with them together.
- Any assistance that the organisation offers – for example, an Employee Assistance Programme or health insurance that could help them access counselling.
- Any options for workplace mediation – if there are problems with workplace relationships or bullying.
- The support available from their GP.
- The support available from other organisations – for example Bupa’s Healthy Mind hub, Mind’s website and Infoline, and other relevant health charities (see case study below).
Example phrases and questions:
- Have you had a look at our mental health and wellbeing policy? Would it help to talk it through so you can understand how we can help you?
- Have you been in touch with our Employee Assistance Programme?
- It’s common to feel like you have to handle things on your own – but it’s always OK to seek help. Have you spoken to your GP about how you are feeling?
“What concerned me the most at work, apart from my embarrassment was that there was no one to speak with or any form of help available at the time” – Noel S
Case study: employment support from Bipolar UK
Carrie enjoyed shaping future generations as Curriculum Head at her school. She loved teaching her students and she worked hard to manage her bipolar. But an adverse reaction to her medication left her hospitalised for weeks and off work for months during which time she also went through a difficult breakup. Carrie reached crisis point and became suicidal.
Feeling she had nowhere to turn, Carrie called Bipolar UK where she received immediate crisis support. Once she was well enough, the charity then offered regular Employment Support, helping ease Carrie’s return to work.
Bipolar UK also provided guidance and advice to the school itself; helping them better understand bipolar and its impact on individuals and those around them.
Over time, Bipolar UK was able to bring Carrie and the management team together to discuss her return to work. Time had fractured their working relationship with a pervading atmosphere of distrust. The school was concerned Carrie wouldn’t be able to provide her students with necessary stability whilst Carrie was subject to the faculty rumour mill.
Bipolar UK delivered bespoke awareness training, including a session with an Employment Ambassador who had a similar experience to Carrie. Bipolar UK’s Employment Support Officer spent time alone with the leadership team, helping to unpack their concerns and provide tools to manage a team member with bipolar. Carrie, for example, completed a Bipolar UK advance statement so the school would know what to do in the event she showed signs of moving up or down the bipolar mood scale.
Now back at school for months, Carrie is looking forward to the new school year, confident in herself and the support available from work and from Bipolar UK.
Bipolar UK’s Employment Support Service recently received funding from the Bupa UK Foundation