- Posted by Jon Harju
- On May 7, 2019
Workplace mental health is a hot topic and thankfully, business leaders are becoming aware they need to be better at addressing it. But, in a cubicle world and open-concept office settings, it can be difficult for managers to have mental health conversations discreetly with their staff. Not only that, managers also feel unequipped and bewildered in supporting employees’ mental health.
The research shows that the majority of managers want to support their people’s mental health, but lack confidence and experience. Consequently, managers often opt for the comfort of relying on staff to approach them regarding their mental illness struggles.
This approach isn’t cutting it. According to Mind’s recent survey of 144,000 employees, less than 50% of staff think managers would spot employees’ mental health problems.
Supporting the manager’s role in a mental health culture shift
Managers need their organization’s support in learning the best practices to facilitate the mental health dialogue and how they can respond to an individual showing signs of mental health challenges.
The Mind survey found many managers felt they needed more support dealing with employees’ mental health — with only 41% reporting their employer contributed to these skills.
For organizations to become healthier and experience a positive culture shift, managers need training and support to have meaningful mental health conversations with their staff. As a helpful starting point, we’ve created mental health tips and scripts for managers.
5 tips to having open mental health communication with employees:
1. Don’t hesitate to open up a conversation.
Be mindful of the environment and minimize distractions.
“Has something happened recently that you want to talk about?”
“I am worried about you.”
“I’ve noticed you’ve seemed down lately.”
Let them finish their sentences and complete thoughts without interrupting. After they have finished you can respond with a clarifying statement.
“Sounds like you are feeling…”
3. Let them know if you understand.
If someone has just opened up and you’ve gone through something similar — tell them. It helps validate their self-worth and confidence. Make sure you don’t switch the topic of conversation to your struggles though; focus on their needs at that moment — it is about them.
“It must be very frightening to believe that…”
“I can imagine this might feel like…”
4. Take them seriously.
DO NOT respond with statements that minimize how they are feeling or what they are going through, such as, “You’re just having a bad week,” or “I’m sure it’s nothing.” Remember, they do not want to feel this way.
5. Make yourself available to talk again if needed.
While it can be a big relief for someone to share something they have been keeping private, mental health struggles usually aren’t solved with one conversation. Let the person who has spoken with you know that they can reach out to you again if they are having a tough time. Schedule regular dates to follow-up on strategies, workloads and coping levels.
“Let’s connect again soon.”
“We can chat over how I and the team can support you at work.”
“My door is always open.”
“Don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’m here to help.”
Supporting employees by giving them access to ample mental health services along with asking them what can be done to help them in doing their job is imperative. When people get the space and the support they need, they are in a healthier and happier place to thrive in the workplace.
Download the Snapclarity online therapy platform today!