Managing employees with mental health issues doesn’t need to be complicated. Line managers can have a real, positive impact without having to become experts. They are well-placed to be able to influence the wellbeing of their staff and they are in regular communication with their team. They will often be the first point of contact for someone who feels they are experiencing the symptoms of stress or a mental health condition at work. So, let’s take a look at 3 ways line managers can begin managing employees with mental health issues effectively.

1. Spotting the signs

With the right training, line managers can spot the signs of stress. This means they can take steps to reduce the pressure on employees so they can perform effectively. By taking a proactive, preventative approach they can prevent mental health issues escalating (Deloitte, 2017). It seems obvious, but stopping situations escalating by dealing with them early on really pays off. And line managers are in a good position to do this. They can spot the warning signs and make any necessary adjustments. When it comes to managing employees with mental health issues, empower your line managers. Let them know that they are in the best position to help employees stay healthy, and ensure they know how to handle issues effectively by delivering appropriate training.

2. One-to-ones

Line managers are the ones having frequent one-to-one meetings with their staff. This is often the time when an employee might discuss a mental health issue, so ensuring that line managers can handle these conversations is essential. Proactive actions at this stage demonstrate to an employee that the organisation cares about their wellbeing. Feeling supported by a manger is one of the main things people experiencing mental health conditions want. So it’s crucial that managers know what to do when the situation occurs – they shouldn’t be caught off-guard.

It’s not easy to have conversations about mental health though. We just aren’t that used to it in our society, so it’s good to have some training to help us get things right. A step-by-step process such as the ALRIGHT method we use in our works1hops can be invaluable for managing employees with mental health issues. It gives managers confidence to do the right thing and have the conversation, rather than shying away and letting a problem get worse.

3. Positive role models

Humans are social beings and 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 should demonstrate behaviours that promote 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. Unfortunately, we can’t just keep working without a break and expect to perform well. Our performance actually decreases, and we find we’ve actually done less work than if we had stopped – we aren’t machines, after all.

Line managers shouldn’t just deal with problems as they arise, but should behave in ways that show the organisation’s positive values. If managers can demonstrate a positive approach towards mental wellbeing, their staff 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. Ensure your managers take holidays, don’t work through weekends or late into the evenings. Although there are often deadlines looming, remember that, in the long-term, working non-stop will result in decreased performance and potentially absence, presenteeism and turnover. So it’s crucial managers don’t feed into this by demonstrating that it’s a behaviour the organisation expects.

Managing employees with mental health issues: Line managers can make a difference

As you can see, there are three clear ways line managers can begin managing employees with mental health issues effectively. They don’t need to be experts in the field of psychology, but they do need to have the right training to give them confidence to have the conversations that prevent situations escalating, spot warning signs and ensure they behave as good role models. Check out our article on the financial benefits of investing in mental health training for more information on why it makes sense to train managers well.

Get in touch

Delphis offers face-to-face workshops and online courses delivered and developed by highly educated business managers, academics and teachers. We are committed to guiding companies along the path to creating healthy, productive and rewarding working environments for their staff. The financial argument is compelling and caring for your employees is the right thing to do.

One major multi-national client has 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.