Managing employees with mental health issues doesn’t need to be complicated. Managers can provide support and positively influence colleagues without having to become experts.

Line managers are well-placed to influence the wellbeing of their staff because they are in regular communication with their team. They will often be the first point of contact for anyone who experiences the symptoms of stress or a mental health condition at work.

So, let’s look at 3 ways line managers can begin managing employees with mental health issues effectively.

1. Spot the signs of stress and mental ill health

With the right training, line managers can learn to spot the signs of stress and mental ill health. They can then take proactive steps to manage the pressure on team members so they can perform more effectively. By taking a proactive, preventative approach they can prevent mental health issues escalating. For an exhaustive UK study of the benefits of managers taking a proactive approach to workplace mental health, download the ‘Mental health and employers: refreshing the case for investment‘, report from Deloitte published earlier this year.

It’s obvious when you think about it. Preventing situations from escalating by dealing with them early on pays off. Line managers are in an excellent position to look for warning signs and then kick-start conversations about workplace mental heath. The ALRIGHT framework from Delphis is a perfect way to structure these conversations.

When it comes to managing employees with mental health issues, empower your line managers. Let them know that they are best placed to help employees stay healthy and ensure they are trained appropriately.

2. Use one-to-ones for ALRIGHT conversations

Line managers should have frequent one-to-one meetings with team members. A one-to-one is often a time when an employee might discuss issues that are troubling them. Ensuring line managers can handle these conversations sensitively is essential.

Proactive interventions at this stage show that the organisation cares about employee wellbeing. Feeling supported by a manager is one of the primary considerations that those with mental health conditions require. It’s crucial, therefore, that managers know what to do when a situation occurs. They should not be caught off-guard.

Having a conversation about mental health is not easy. So it’s good to have some training to get things right. A step-by-step process such as the ALRIGHT technique that we teach in our Mental Health for Managers Workshop can be invaluable for supporting colleagues with mental health issues. It offers managers the confidence to start the conversation, rather than shying away and letting a manageable issue develop into something worse.

3. Be a role model for positive mental health and wellbeing

Human beings are social animals. We learn how to behave from those around us – particularly from those in positions of authority. So the way line managers behave shapes the way employees act. Line managers behave in ways that show good mental health and wellbeing.

For example, line managers shouldn’t work through their breaks. All this does is show their team that they should also work through their breaks. We can’t just keep working without a break and expect to perform well. Our performance actually decreases, and we find we’ve done less work than if we had paused for a while. We are not machines.

If line managers can take a positive approach towards mental health and wellbeing, team members will see this as the correct way to behave. They are then less likely to engage in behaviours that may have a detrimental effect on their mental health.

Encourage your managers take holidays, not to work through weekends or late into the evenings. Although deadlines loom, remember that long-term over working leads to decreased performance, absenteeism, presenteeism and employee turnover. Managers should not create a culture of toxic productivity.

Line managers can make a difference

There are three straightforward ways line managers can begin managing employees with mental health issues effectively.

  1. Spot the signs of stress and mental ill health early
  2. Use one-to-ones for conversations using the ALRIGHT technique
  3. Be a role model for positive mental health and wellbeing

Managers don’t need to become experts in psychology, but they do need the right training to provide the skills and confidence required.

Get in touch

Delphis offers workshops, webinars and self-paced online courses delivered and developed by highly educated and experienced business managers, academics and teachers. We guide companies along the path to creating healthy and rewarding working environments for their people. 

Join the major multi-national clients who have taken the right step by getting involved in our workshops:

“Very relevant and informative… engaging and inclusive style. Worth spending a whole day on… need to roll out to whole company… loved the takeaway workbook… pretty much perfect.”

Please get in touch to discuss how we can provide customised mental health training for your organisation that fits your needs.