How to Support Staff Experiencing a Mental Health Problem

According to Mind, 1 in 6 workers is dealing with mental health problems such as depression, stress and anxiety. Mental health problems can have a significant impact on an individual’s performance at work.

For those suffering with a mental health problem, it can help to communicate this to managers and colleagues – but this is not always easy, and people often do not feel comfortable talking about mental health issues, particularly at work. Therefore, mental health in the workplace can be a complex issue to deal with.

A good employer will support staff who are suffering from mental health problems and they should lead from the top in doing so – demonstrating to other employees and setting a positive example of how to treat others well and care for their wellbeing.

By supporting employees with mental health problems, an organisation is more likely to retain valuable members of staff, enhancing trust and increasing their loyalty and commitment towards the organisation.

Mental health is something we all have – whether we are young or old, male or female, financially stable etc. It doesn’t matter who we are. Our mental health can change from good to poor at any point in our lives, due to a complex range of factors which are often unpredictable.

Given that anyone can experience mental ill-health, it’s important to remember that we can also all help to show empathy with others and support our colleagues.

‘Mind’ has produced a guide that sets out simple, practical guidance for any organisation to follow to help them support staff at whatever stage of the mental health spectrum they’re at - whether they are stressed or have a diagnosed mental health condition.

It looks at:

  • creating a culture that supports staff to be open about their mental health
  • having a conversation with someone about their mental health
  • supporting someone experiencing a mental health problem
  • managing an employee’s time off sick and their return to work

In summary, it explores breaking the ‘taboo’ of talking about mental health and creating open cultures where people can speak up and be listened to, supporting staff and dealing with potential periods of sickness absence and managing return to work.

Supporting staff experiencing mental health problems is a process that should be carefully managed. There are no quick fixes. For further details, go here to read Mind’s guidance.

Promoting positive mental health in the workplace and supporting those experiencing a mental health problem is extremely important. People with good mental health are often more productive, more likely to make valuable contributions and will tend to interact better with their colleagues.

An employer’s understanding of and approach to mental health in the workplace is an indication of what their organisational culture is like. Is it one that supports its staff and cares for their wellbeing? Ask yourself these questions honestly. If you don’t think your organisation supports its staff effectively, you may need to re-consider your approach to dealing with mental health in the workplace.

About the author

An award-winning advertising graduate, Hazel started at RWA in 2013 as an e-Learning Assistant with a background in design and advertising.

As Senior e-Learning Designer, she uses Articulate  Storyline software to create engaging e-learning content, including bespoke courses for a variety of clients and insurance-based courses for our large insurance clientele. Hazel creates RWA’s eye-catching marketing material.

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