Oli Foster / 9th March 2018

How to look after your employees’ mental health

There has been a significant and, we think, overdue emphasis recently on the destigmatisation of mental health.

Mental health, like physical health, is something that affects all of us. And while the most chronic and debilitating conditions obviously require more care and treatment, it is important not to overlook mental healthcare at even the lowest, simplest levels.

This is why it is so important to look after your employees’ mental health. As a boss, manager and coworker, you should hopefully be aware that you have a duty of care towards members of staff in your company. It’s a duty of care that extends to mental health as well as physical.

Most people spend the majority of their waking hours at their job, and workplace stress is one of the biggest contributors to mental health problems.

So, we have 4 key points to act as a starting guide for you to start talking about and caring for the mental health of everyone working for your company.

1. Start a real conversation

Destigmatisation cannot happen without people talking about the issue of mental health. According to Mind, 30% of people do not feel they could talk openly to their line manager if they were feeling stressed.

It is crucial that people feel able to talk about mental health, especially when stress-related, at work. In order to ensure they do, you must be seen to be open to talking about it.

The easiest way to do this is to simply ask people about it. We suggest organising regular one-on-one catch-ups with members of staff to talk about their personal, rather than professional, progress. Even if you cannot personally hold all these meetings, create a system where everybody knows they have someone to talk to on a regular basis about their lives, stresses and general mental health.

lloyds bank get the inside out

Lloyds Bank’s #GetTheInsideOut capaign, aiming to break down the stigma and start a conversation

2. Lead by example

The higher up the ladder you are, the more people are looking up at your actions as a guide for their own. If you are open about your mental health, others will follow suit.

Even if you are not sharing that part of your life, taking visible steps to accommodate mental health care in the workplace shows employees that you care, and that they will be able to share, should they need to.

Your example is also crucial when it comes to the issue of work-life balance. This may sound like a buzzword nowadays, but if it is ignored the results can be disastrous. Encouraging a healthy work-life balance shows employees that their work should not consume their lives, and job stress should not be spilling over into their personal life all the time.

Obviously, this is a key area in which you should be leading by example.

3. Be open

At least 1 in 5 people admit to calling in sick to avoid work due to stress. At first glance, many will assume this is ‘pulling a sickie’, but we are here to tell you that a stress-induced day off is, more often than not, a real sick day. It just isn’t a physical sickness, and assuming that makes it fake is playing right into the mental health stigma.

It is crucial to try and make accommodations for people who are suffering from mental health problems. Flexibility in working hours/habits, where appropriate and practical, is an obvious way to do this. Having active support systems is also important, including making allowances for people to take time during the week to attend treatment, if needed.

4. Consult the professionals

There are a huge number of resources out there to help you look after your employees’ mental health.

You can download free content to improve mental wellbeing and employee engagement, seek out mental health professionals to recommend to those employees who may require or want professional help, or simply look online for training courses.

With 56% of employers admitting they wish they could do more to help and improve wellbeing among their staff, there is a clear push for this training to be taken on and put into practice.


Charities, professionals and a simple online search can all offer advice on looking after your employees’ mental health

Health and wellness at work

We must emphasise here that there should be a line between being supportive and being intrusive. Have support systems in place, an open environment and clear encouragement for those employees who want to talk about their mental health. But do not push, goad or take any invasive steps where it is not necessary or desired.

Mental health conditions can be as chronic and debilitating as physical ones, and can progress to this stage from a minor problem in much the same way as a physical disease would, especially if left untreated.

Ignoring or suppressing the symptoms will only cause more problems in the long run. Now is the time to break the silence take the steps needed to care for your employees’ mental health. And don’t forget about your own!