As a manager, you have responsibility to support your staff’s wellbeing and promoting good mental health in the workplace.

A good line manager will foster the kind of working environment that makes employees feel valued, respected and supported, and will act as a ‘gatekeeper’ protecting them from any working conditions that present risks to their mental wellbeing. Conversely, a bad line manager can aggravate and, in some cases, even be the cause of stress, anxiety and depression.” IOSH line manager report

Supporting team members

As a manager of a team, you can improve working practices, encourage your team to speak openly, and reassure them you will offer support. 

Stigma is reduced when people can talk openly about mental health. This leads to more understanding and a greater likelihood people will seek support earlier.

And it helps you as a manager. 

It’s much easier to support employees at an earlier stage than wait until they reach crisis point. 

Effectively supporting employees with mental health problems means you can employ, retain and get the best from them. 

What to look out for:

Everyone’s experience of mental health is different and can change at different times. As a manager, it’s important to get to know your team and understand what they need and when. 

Some ideas of early signs might be:

  • poor concentration

  • being easily distracted

  • worrying more

  • finding it hard to make decisions

  • low mood

  • feeling overwhelmed by things

  • tiredness and lack of energy

  • talking less and avoiding social activities talking more or talking very fast, jumping between topics and ideas

  • finding it difficult to control your emotions drinking more

  • irritability and short temper

  • aggression

Look after your mental health 

As a manager, your focus is on supporting your team in the workplace but remember, your own wellbeing is just as important. You have a duty to yourself to look after your own mental health at work. Looking after your mental health doesn’t always mean you can avoid problems entirely. But we still need to look after our mental health in the same way that we look after our physical health. 

How to help your staff 

If you’re a line manager, you play an important role in supporting your team’s mental health and wellbeing. But it can be hard to know where to start. The suggestions in this section should help.

Make sure you have a good knowledge of common mental health problems and signs of poor mental health 

Get to know your team so you notice any changes in their behaviour. Make sure you’re prepared to have a conversation about their mental health. Bear in mind that mental health problems affect different people in different ways. You may have to adapt your approach to suit different individuals. If you feel you need more support and training from your company, talk to your manager. 

Show staff that their wellbeing matters to you. Encourage them to work sensible hours, take full lunch breaks and attend wellbeing initiatives in the organisation. Looking after their mental health is just as important as their physical health. This will lead to a more productive team in the long term. 

Make sure you’re available 

Prioritise regular one-to-ones and catch ups with your team. Make sure you use this time to check how they are and talk through any difficulties at home or work. Knowing your team’s ‘normal’ outlook and activities will give you a frame of reference to spot changes in these early. This will make conversations easier if problems do arise.