How to Support Employees' Mental Health as a Manager


A lot of employees are facing uncertainty at the moment, and this can lead to anxiety in the workplace. COVID-19, the rising cost of living and struggling businesses are all impacting the mental health of employees, regardless of the industry. According to a study by Mind Share Partners, 42% of people asked said that their mental health had declined since the start of the pandemic. Considering that a lot of people are feeling the uncertainty now more than ever, it’s safe to assume that this percentage has risen.

Before the pandemic, a lot of companies started to focus on workplace mental health, and these efforts are becoming increasingly important. As the world transitions, managers are likely to see employees dealing with anxiety, burnout and depression. So, how should managers be supporting individuals that are struggling?

Here’s How Managers Can Support Employees’ Mental Health Struggles

  • Normalise Mental Health Challenges - Since the pandemic, a lot more people are talking about mental health challenges, and this is something that supportive managers should be normalising. Though being open and honest can be comfortable, it helps to reduce the stigma, and it encourages people to ask for help when they need it. As a manager, you should be honest about your own mental health struggles, and open the door for employees who want to do the same.
  • Check In with Employees - It’s important to regularly check in with employees, and build a culture of connecting in this way. Though you do need to leave people to their own devices to some degree, you should also find the time to catch up with employees, especially if they are working remotely. It’s not always easy to see that someone is struggling, but employees are more likely to open up if you ask them directly. Instead of simply asking how they are, ask specific questions and focus on what help they need. Listen to their worries and concerns, show that you have heard them, and work together to create a plan of action.
  • Lead by Example - Don’t just say that you support employees’ mental health challenges, do it. Show your team how to support others, and model behaviour that you want others to follow. This includes prioritising self care, setting boundaries and focusing on your own wellbeing. If you are taking a walk in the middle of the day, let your employees know. If you are heading off for a therapy appointment, don’t be afraid to share this, as it could help others to see that seeking help is key. You should aim to make employees see that doing things for yourself is normal.
  • Be Flexible and Inclusive - The needs of your employees are likely to change, often more than once, so be as flexible and inclusive as possible. Check in with them and find out what they need to feel better supported at work, and let them set boundaries to create an environment that works for them. People need different things at different times, so try to avoid making assumptions. Some people need flexible working hours for childcare, whereas others might be overworking themselves due to the demands of the job. A lot of employees are more productive if they have some control over their working hours, so it can benefit the business as a whole. Though being flexible and inclusive can be daunting, as it could lead to big changes in the workplace, have faith in your team.
  • Share Resources More Effectively - According to a Qualtrics study, 46% of workers said that their company had not proactively shared the mental health resources that are available to them. This is why managers need to communicate the support and help that is available as much as possible, to ensure that struggling employees can access the mental health resources they need. It’s also important to normalise using these resources, as some employees could feel embarrassed or hesitant about doing so.

Though it’s impossible to completely eradicate the mental health struggles of employees, especially with so much change and uncertainty happening in the world, a supportive manager can make a big difference to their happiness, wellbeing and productivity in the workplace.

Posted by: Branwell Ford