A man with his head in his hands at his desk

Understanding mental health problems

Lots of employees and managers tell us they don’t understand what it’s like to experience a mental health problem. If you don’t understand something, it may be difficult to offer the right support.

“Many, if not most, managers are scared by the situation and that leads to unnecessary conflict.” – Alan RM

Lots of employees tell us that they feel worried about talking to their manager because they don’t think they’ll understand.

“Unless people have had contact with someone who has these issues they are usually unsympathetic through lack of knowledge” – K

What types of mental health problem are there?

If you’re a manager, it’s important to find out as much as possible about the types of mental health problems your employees might experience.

You can read more about diagnoses here:

Read our quick guide for managers on mental health in the workplace

As a manager, you have a really important role in supporting employee wellbeing and promoting good mental health in the workplace.

“I am most concerned that many people suffering mental health issues are left at the mercy of managers who may have little or no training / experience” – JulieR

What are the signs I should be looking out for?

It’s also important to remember that not everyone who is experiencing a mental health problem will have (or want) a diagnosis. Some employees may be experiencing difficult feelings and symptoms that do not match a specific diagnosis. They may still need support.

Read more about the signs of poor mental health.

What treatment and support are available?

Understanding more about the treatment that’s available can help you feel more confident about dealing with disclosure and supporting your employees to access (and benefit from) the right help for them.

Read more about common treatments and support and how these might affect your colleagues.

Finally, remember that everyone’s experience of a mental health problem is different. If you’re a manager, our supporting employees with mental health problems section has more information on working with your staff to create personal action plans to identify the support they need.

A BMA logo for highly commended information

Highly Commended in Wellbeing in the 2019 BMA Patient Information Awards

    • Bupa Think Tank Discussion – Mental health in the workplace. 5–19 December 2016. 109 participants, 111 individual responses.
    • Getting ahead: Why Mental health at work matters. Mind, Mayor of London. www.mind.org.uk
  • Produced by Clare Foster, freelance health editor, and Nick Ridgman, Head of Health Content, Bupa UK, September 2017
    Next review due September 2020

    Bupa UK expert reviewers:

    • Naomi Humber, Psychology Services Manager, EAP
    • Stuart Haydock, Resilience Lead, Health Clinics
    • Sarah Deedat, Head of Behaviour Change
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