Supporting Employees' Mental Health

By Chris Wagstaff
13 Jun 2023

Mental health is as important as ever. Each week it seems like there's another story in the news referencing a public figure's mental health and struggles. From Love Island stars opening up about their own mental health struggles that have affected them after the show finished filming, to Philip Schofield referencing Caroline Flack in an interview after he stepped down from ITV after a story was leaked about a potentially inappropriate relationship with a co-worker.

It begs the question, what can employers do to help protect and support employees' mental health, and those who are struggling? It doesn't matter how minor or severe the effects are, everyone deserves support when they need it most.

We've put together how you can help your employees who are struggling, and how you can spot mental health issues before they grow in severity.

If you need immediate support or advice on your employee's mental health condition, get in touch with one of Croner's experts here 0808 145 3375.

An employers hand covering employees, offering them mental health support for any mental health conditions.

What is mental health?

Your mental health is as important as your physical health, and mental health problems and stress should be treated as such.

When we refer to a person's mental health, we are talking about their mental wellbeing. This can change depending on life experiences, external factors, depression and stress.

As such it can appear as dips and highs, this is incredibly normal, and usually wouldn't be a cause for concern.

Mental health can be linked to a person's workplace productivity. If one of your employees has good mental health, then they are likely to be more productive and reach their full potential in comparison to someone with poor mental health at work.

As an employer, if you don't address any mental health and wellbeing issues or concerns and support employees, you start to run the risk of losing or disengaging talented members of your team. This is why having a robust mental health and wellbeing policy is so important.

How do I recognise a mental health condition?

Mental health benefits and conditions won't present themselves in the same way in all your employees, and they are about as individual as your team.

That being said, there are a few signs and symptoms you can watch out for, these could be changes in their;

  • Usual behaviour and their moods. This could include how they interact with their colleagues.
  • Their standard of work. Has it dipped from their usual standard?
  • Do they appear tired, anxious or withdrawn? Have you noticed a lack of interest in an activity they once enjoyed?
  • Appetite changes or have they had an increase in smoking or drinking?
  • Have they had an increase in sick days or are they regularly turning up late to work?

How to address mental health with employees

It can be difficult to know how to approach talking to someone about their own mental health issue, particularly if they are an employee and you believe they are struggling.

But there are a few things that you can do to show your employees that you are there for them and can provide support.

For example,

Open door policy

Ensure that your employees know they can come to you with any issues for support or guidance. Remind them that anything they tell you will remain confidential, this is also an opportunity to remind your employee that you have an employee assistance programme (EAP) which can provide them with additional support.

Refer them for additional support.

If you feel it's necessary, or if your employee asks for peer support, you can refer your employees to additional services. If you have an EAP, you can direct employees to this service to help them improve their workplace mental health.

Utilising an EAP means that your employee doesn't have to approach you first for help, making it widely known within the business that employees can reach out for help whenever they need it, without having to go through their line managers to receive the support.

an employer helping an employee with mental ill health. and offering support mental health.

Benefits of promoting good mental health at work.

As an employer, you should be promoting and advocating for your team to have good mental health and work-life balance. As a result, this will have benefits for both your business and your employees.

Some of these benefits include.

A reduction in staff turnover

Whether we like it or not, workplace mental health can have a significant impact on your staff turnover. This could be due to external factors or aspects of their work such as stress.

By offering your employees support and guidance, you are able to reduce your staff turnover. As employees will feel like they can get help from you. Following this, once you've discovered what is causing stress for your employees you can put a plan in place to support people and help mitigate the stress and anxiety.

Improve productivity

A happy workforce is a productive workforce. When you create an environment where employees feel supported and motivated it will have a positive impact on their well being, their mental health and your business's productivity.

Reduction in staff absences

By supporting your employees health and team's mental health you can reduce the amount of time your team takes off sick. This will help your business maintain production, and experience fewer moments of downtime.

Men's mental health

When we talk about mental health, we often don't talk about the mental health of men (or those who identify as male). As this is often overlooked, those who are suffering from mental illness don't receive the help and support they need.

It's important for employers to support all their employees, and to avoid shying away from a topic they might find uncomfortable. Employers can reach out to employees with the free counselling that is available through a business's EAP service.

an employee speaking to their line manager about their mental helath issues for support, in aims to create a positive mental health.

Looking after mental health at work

If you aren't sure where to start with looking after the mental health of your employees, we've put together some tips to help you.

Talk about feelings

Creating a safe space for your team to talk about their feelings will help promote good mental health and a positive attitude.

Where it can feel odd or slightly awkward to talk about feelings, you should remember that this doesn't have to be done in a large group and can be done on a one-to-one basis. This will help make your employees more comfortable when they come to you with any issues they have.

Take a break

Taking a moment for yourself can do wonders for your own health and your team's mental health. It's important to take a break when you feel like you need one. This could be a five-minute coffee break, an afternoon not looking at a computer screen or social media, or it means taking time off work to go on a mini break.

As an employer, you can offer your employees mental health days, allowing them to take a moment to themselves.

Eat well

Having a good diet can help boost someone's mental health.

Encourage your employees to leave their desks for their lunch breaks. This will help create a degree of separation from their work. This will also give them the chance to decompress from their work, and potentially take them away from their work for a brief period of time.

Keep active

Carrying out regular exercise can help multiple benefits for your employees and their mental and physical health.

exercise can help:

  • Boost self-esteem.
  • Improve concentration.
  • Helps with
  • Feel better in general.

Encourage your employees to take small walks throughout the day, this could be as small as walking to get a cup of tea or coffee. You could also set up various schemes that are designed to get your employees moving, such as cycle to work scheme.

a mental health problem can appear different in each person but they still may need help and support with their own mental health.

Expert help

Mental health can be a complex topic, and you could already be worried about saying the wrong thing and making your employee's situation worse. Croner's Health & safety experts can help advice you on what you should do if an employee approaches you with mental health concerns.

Croner has a team of award-winning HR consultants who are specialists in their field. We've been helping businesses for over 80 years and our advice line is open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. Why not speak to a Croner expert on 0808 145 3375



About the Author

Chris is the Director of Health and Safety at Croner. Chris is also CMIOSH accredited, an IOSH Mentor and HSE People Champion and has over 20 years working in Health & Safety.

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