Communication - A vital ingredient in workplace mental health

This article looks specifically at healthy workplace communication and explores how employers can encourage staff to talk about their mental health. Unfortunately, work and mental health can be tricky areas to navigate. It is not always easy to identify mental health issues that may arise in a busy work environment. So, how can employers better listen to what their employees need?

Have you ever been in a situation where you are trying to articulate something really important to you, and the other person just doesn’t get it? These situations can be frustrating, upsetting and painful and are probably something that you do not want to do repeatedly.

Mental distress often affects communication and makes it harder for some to convey how they are feeling. One of the biggest hurdles for some employees is being unsure whether or not to tell their boss and colleagues about their mental health concerns. They may feel afraid of judgement or feel that they won’t be taken seriously. However, speaking up – and feeling safe to speak up – is important. 

How to talk about mental health at work

Employees should be encouraged to speak out and not cope with any mental health problems alone.  

Here are some general ideas that employers can try to support mental health conversations:

  • Recognising the signs of poor mental health and the causes is an excellent place to start
  • Have general, open conversations about what employees find stressful in the workplace and see if there is a pattern
  • Talk to your employees about what works well for them
  • Provide training to managers on active listening
  • Support Mental Health First Aider training
  • Implement an Employee Assistant Programme

Communication is critical in supporting many aspects of mental health. It can help or hinder recovery, depending on whether or not it is done well. Dedicating time and resources to mental health and communication around mental health is a must-have, not nice-to-have for any business – regardless of size.

The team at IHRS can help – get in touch via email HRhelp@ihrsolutions.co.uk, call 01604 709509 or visit our website

About the author

Laura is a HR professional with 20 years’ experience with Financial Services, the majority of which has been within insurance. In her role with UKGI Group, Laura provides objective support to firms on employment law and HR issues. She uses her interpersonal skills and knowledge to work with firms to help them develop strong and resilient HR strategies and establish healthy organisational cultures. Laura’s clients receive personalised support with a real can-do approach.

Laura is an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). She holds a Diploma Professional Development Scheme.

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