How to start a conversation with an employee about their mental health

How to start a conversation with an employee about their mental health


In recent years, there has been an increasing amount of necessary attention given to mental health problems such as depression, anxiety or stress. Currently, 1 in 6 workers suffer with a mental health problem and this can stop people from performing at their best. Providing support for employees who are suffering will not only help your employees to perform better but it will also portray your Company’s values.


If you are unsure whether an employee has mental health problems, a good starting point would be to routinely ask your team how they are, make sure they are ok and acknowledge the fact that mental health awareness is important, and support is available if needed.


Often, people who suffer from mental health problems do not feel that they are able to ask for extra help or support. Therefore, if you think an employee might be suffering, you may need to take the lead and have a conversation with them. Remember, it may be the case that the employee is not ready to talk about their mental health and therefore, it would be wise to start off with an informal chat in order to show the employee that help, and support is available.


The following steps will help to establish open communication:


  1. Location– It is important that the employee feels like they are able to open up about any potential problems they are having. Try to choose a private and quiet location where the employee will feel calm and able to talk openly, this could be outside of the office.
  2. Confidentiality– Reassure your employee that the information they share will be approached with sensitivity and confidentiality.
  3. Questions– Never make assumptions about people’s mental health. Try to ask open ended questions which will allow the employee to describe the types of mental health issues they are dealing with and whether or not they need extra support managing them.
  4. Support– Try to establish a plan of action to help the employee. For example, if the employee feels stressed at work, think of ways that can create on-the-job support to help them cope. It may also be useful to encourage the employee to seek professional advice and support.
  5. Follow up– Arrange a follow-up meeting to see how the employee is coping and whether your action plan has helped.


Employees perform best when they are healthy, motivated and focused therefore, effectively supporting your employees will help to increase productivity.



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