Episode 2: How to manage mental health at work

Listen as we dig deeper into the topic of mental health in the workplace

40 min read | 11 July, 2019

We're joined by Jacqui Mann, Clive Stone and Marteka Swaby to explore what triggers stress in the workplace, as well as the tools and training initiatives that are available for small businesses. 


How do managers define mental health in the workplace?

Mental health is easy to stigmatise and is often confused with illness. First you need to understand the difference between mental health and mental illness.

Everyone has mental health - we all have various scales of resilience, but mental illness is linked to diagnosis; depression, anxiety, schizophrenia.

Challenging the stigma:

  • The cup or stress bucket analogy;
  • Is there a mental health spectrum?
  • Mental health in the media:
  • Typical misconceptions around mental health, crime and getting back to work.


Typical mental health issues that HR face:

FIT note/ GP sick notes - employees who are signed off:

  • What does 'stress' mean? What are the next steps?
  • Employer/employee support can be scary.
  • The education gap for support is bigger than we think.
  • You cannot see mental illness or mental ill-health. 
  • SMEs are fearful of saying the wrong thing and ending up in an employment tribunal.


How to manage an employee's disclosure:

  • Preventative mental health vs employee absences and disciplinary procedures.
  • Create a listening space/ safe environment.

Reflective listening techniques and change conversations OARS:

  • Open questions;
  • Affirmations;
  • Reflective listening, paraphrasing; and 
  • Summarising.


Resources and top tips:

  • Walk at lunchtime/ walking meetings;
  • Informal chats/check-ins/regular one-to-ones;
  • Flexible hours/ reasonable adjustments;
  • Prevention is better than cure - set guidelines and support techniques;
  • Link with other companies for staff training to reduce costs;
  • MHFA training;
  • Invest in your workplace culture;
  • Leaders and managers to practise what they preach;
  • Use positive company culture to improve wellbeing;
  • Make people important within your company values;
  • Sex, age or responsibility, everyone can be treated fairly; 
  • BYOB - Bring your Own Breakfast - Space to Breathe/ Time to Change fortnightly morning; 
  • Books and reading. Encourage staff to book swap. 
  • Don't be too prescriptive. Variety is key.

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