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Tips for Managers on How to Support Employees Who Are Struggling with Mental Health

May 3, 2023

Did you know that one in five Americans will experience a mental illness this year? That means it’s not a matter of “if,” but “when” someone in your workplace will struggle with their mental health. As a manager, it’s crucial to support your employees no matter what they’re going through. Just like physical illness, mental illness requires our time, attention, and thoughtful approaches. 

You can help your employees feel valued and supported with the right strategies and mindset. We asked our Employment Services Team experts to weigh in on how managers can support employees with mental health concerns. By implementing these tips, managers can create a work environment that fosters collaboration, trust, and job satisfaction, leading to a more productive and successful team. 

Keep open communication
It’s essential to maintain open communication with your employees. Encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings with you, and ensure they know you’re there to support them. Keeping open communication can help you identify potential issues early and find solutions.

Build a relationship with the person
Building a positive and supportive relationship with your employees is essential for their mental health. Make an effort to get to know them personally, and be approachable and friendly. Show that you care about their well-being and that they can trust you.

Listen and ask questions
Listening actively to your employees is important, but it’s also important to ask questions. Sometimes things may not be what they seem, and asking questions can help you to understand the situation better. Avoid making assumptions and keep an open mind.

Create a space for communication
Creating a space for communication is important for employees to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and concerns. This space can be created through regular check-ins, open-door policies, and anonymous feedback channels. It can help reduce fears and anxieties and encourage employees to seek help when needed.

Be flexible and open-minded
Be flexible and open-minded in accommodating your employees’ needs. This flexibility can be in the form of adjusting work schedules, allowing remote work, or providing additional support and resources. Being flexible can significantly affect an employee’s ability to manage their mental health.

Address things as they occur
Addressing problems promptly can prevent minor issues from becoming more significant and negatively impacting employee morale and productivity. Don’t ignore or avoid issues; instead, take a proactive approach to resolve them.

Find out what a person’s strengths are
Identifying an employee’s strengths is vital in finding the proper support and resources for them. It also helps to identify areas where they can excel and delegate duties accordingly. A change of duties may sometimes be needed to accommodate their strengths better.

Have a specific point of contact
Having a specific point of contact for your employees helps avoid confusion and ensures that feedback is directed to the right person. Too many managers or getting feedback from too many people can overwhelm employees.

Establish natural supports
Establishing natural supports can help employees feel more comfortable in their workplace. This support can come from a coworker or supervisor who can address questions or concerns and provide guidance when needed.

Accommodations can be helpful
Accommodations can be helpful to employees with mental health issues. Most accommodations are low cost and can significantly impact an employee’s ability to perform their job and retain them in the workplace. The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is a great resource for managers seeking accommodations guidance.

Understand mental health parity
For managers choosing health plans, it’s essential to understand the mental health parity laws in place. Our friends at NAMI have some great information on this topic, here.