One of the most important parts of effectively supporting mental health in the workplace is early intervention. But this relies on all of us being able to recognise the signs of when someone might be struggling with a mental health concern.

Research from mental health charity, Mind reveals that only two in five employees feel their manager could spot the signs that they’re struggling with mental health.

We were surprised by this statistic, and wanted to test it out for ourselves. At this year’s EB Connect, we conducted a flash survey to find whether the HR professionals in attendance were confident that line managers in their business could spot signs of mental health problems.

Our poll revealed that a staggering 73% said no – they were not confident that line managers could spot signs of mental health issues. So, there is clearly still work to be done for many organisations, around building awareness of mental health and of what support is available. And in particular, making sure all employees, and especially managers, know how to help.

We also asked what organisations could do better to support mental health. This highlighted some really interesting themes, which we have summarised into five key points.

1. Improving awareness

Improving awareness, and in turn creating an open culture to discuss mental health is the starting point. To better support mental health, you need it to be top of mind for the entire organisation. It’s critical to engage people at all levels, so they know what to do if they encounter someone with a mental health issue.

2. Getting buy-in from senior leaders

Without leadership buy-in, it can be hard to get any mental health initiative off the ground. This is why it’s crucial to engage business leaders from the beginning. They must be able to ‘walk the talk’, proving their backing for any project or campaign. Highlighting the potential financial return on investment, such as reduced sickness absence, could be helpful to getting the support you need.

3. Mental health training for managers

Training line managers (and other staff where appropriate) is another important step. This could be in the form of mental health first aid training, which can provide valuable skills to help people look after their own mental wellbeing, and that of others. This kind of training can also help educate people on the triggers and signs of mental health issues, and develop interpersonal skills like listening. All this helps to create an environment where employees can feel safe to talk, and be mentally healthier.

4. Having ambassadors for mental health

Having ‘ambassadors’ for mental health in an organisation, can help to spread your message far and wide. Alongside trained line managers, this group of people can also build awareness of mental health among employees, be on the ‘front line’ supporting colleagues, and act as champions for any health benefits that offer mental health support.

5. Linking health benefits to mental health

Often, businesses have health benefits in place that provide support for mental health; an EAP with access to counselling services is a common option, provided in almost two thirds of organisations1. Where employers can fall down though, is by not effectively communicating about these benefits – in fact, 56% of organisations communicate about benefits with staff on less than a quarterly basis2. Linking health benefits to how they can help mental wellbeing is important and can be done by coordinating with national campaigns such as Mental Health Awareness Week.

We’ll be sharing more insights from our EB Connect roundtables soon. We had plenty of lively discussion around artificial intelligence, wearable technology, and how businesses can use these things to support employee wellbeing. Be sure to check back to find out more!

  1. CIPD/Simplyhealth Health and Well-being at Work 2018 report

  2. Simplyhealth Health and Wellbeing Benefits Guide 2017

Simplyhealth Team

Simplyhealth Team

Simplyhealth helps companies, and their talent, perform well.

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