Let's talk mental health

Helping your employees
talk about mental health

Talking about mental health

We all have mental health, in the same way we all have physical health too. Mental health affects the way we think, feel and behave. This makes it so important to take time to look after your employee's mental health and wellbeing.

What can I do as a manager?

As there is often no visible signs of a mental-health condition, providing the appropriate support for your employees can be difficult. But, remember you don’t have to be an expert to talk about mental health. Here are some tips to help you start that conversation:


Let the person know you are there if they want to talk

Keep it confidential

Make sure you have time to talk

Be empathetic rather than sympathetic

Let the person share as much or little as they want

Ask open questions to help you to understand

Make a plan and review regularly

Ask how they would like you to help them

Reassure the person that you will do your best to help them

Be flexible in your approach



  • Tell someone to pull themselves together – if they could, they would have by now
  • Diagnose or second-guess someone’s feelings
  • Be judgmental or make assumptions
  • Grill anyone by peppering them with quick-fire questions
  • Talk over someone about your own or anyone else’s experiences
  • Tell someone what to do
  • Make promises that you cannot deliver

Practical support for managers

Being supportive through listening may be enough, but sometimes you need to provide practical support. Below is a list to help approach the subject of mental health.

  • Don’t assume because someone has a mental health problem that they need to be off work and at home. Often this is the worst thing for them. One size doesn’t fit all, so be sure to talk through alternative options.
  • Returning to work can be hard for individuals, both physically and emotionally. It’s important that you show sensitivity, be professional and provide the support needed for a smooth return. The Return to Work process is a vital element of managing absence and supporting your employees back to work.
  • If there are performance issues, acknowledge them in a non-blaming way. Plan for how to support someone to overcome them in the immediate and longer term.
  • Think about whether you can put any short-term adjustments in place to help the person manage their symptoms more effectively. Help them to feel that they are valued and that they can continue to make an ongoing contribution to the team and organisation.

Useful contacts

You can direct your employees and team to the following resources and support services:


Improving the quality of life for anyone affected by mental illness.

Call: 0300 304 7000 (16:30 - 22:30)

Visit online: Sane


Support for everyone experiencing mental health problems.

Call: 0300 123 3393 (9am - 7pm,  Monday - Friday except bank holidays)

Visit online: Mind

The Samaritans

24 hours a day support for anyone who needs help.

Call: 116 123 (24 hours a day)

Visit online: Samaritans

Anything else we can help with?

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