The role of a manager
- be approachable, available and encourage staff to talk to them if they are having problems
- tailor their management style to suit the needs of each staff member
- monitor staff workloads, set realistic targets and be clear about priorities
- have regular one-to-ones and catch-ups to check on how work is going, identify upcoming challenges and what support may be required.
Spot the signs of mental ill health
- changes in usual behaviour, mood or how they interact with colleagues
- changes in the standard of their work or focus on tasks
- appearing tired, anxious or withdrawn and reduced interest in tasks they previously enjoyed
- changes in appetite and/or increase in smoking and drinking
- increase in sickness absence and/or turning up late to work.
Encourage staff to develop their own Wellness Action Plans
- triggers, symptoms and early warning signs
- how mental ill health may impact performance
- what support they need from their manager.
Talking to a team member who may be experiencing mental ill health
- move the conversation to a private space, where they will not be disturbed (if not already somewhere appropriate)
- thank the team member for coming to talk to them
- allow them as much time as they need
- focus on what the team member says
- be open minded
- try to identify what the cause is
- think about potential solutions
- be prepared for the unexpected
- adjourn the meeting if it is necessary to think through what has been discussed before making a decision.
Managing a team member who may feel unable to talk
Supporting a team member during periods of mental ill health
Supporting the rest of your team
Managing absence related to mental ill health
- agree when and how regular contact will be maintained during the absence
- be positive, professional and supportive at all times
- agree what the team member would like their work colleagues to know about their absence and how they are doing
- not pressure the team member to return to work before they feel ready
- encourage a phased return
- use Occupational Health where practicable to look at ways the organisation can support the team member return to work.
Helping a team member return to work
- welcome them back to work
- check they are well enough to return
- update them on any workplace news they may have missed while away
- discuss their absence
- discuss any worries the person has about returning to work
- confirm their working arrangements and what plans and adjustments are in place to support them in their work
- allow them to ask questions.
Approaching potential disciplinary or capability matters
- additional adjustments or further support may improve performance or conduct
- other lighter duties or a transfer to different role may be available.
Acas training courses
- Managing people
- Managing Absence
- Discipline & Grievance
- Performance Management
Further support for managers and staff
- Access to work - www.gov.uk/access-to-work - can provide advice and an assessment of workplace needs for individuals, with disabilities or long-term health conditions, who are already in work or about to start. Grants may also be available to help cover the cost of workplace adaptations.
- Business in the Community - www.bitc.org.uk - is a network that provides toolkits on Mental Health, Suicide prevention and Suicide postvention to help employers support the mental health and wellbeing of employees.
- Mind - www.mind.org.uk - is a leading mental health charity in England and Wales. It provides information and support on how to improve mental health.
- Mindful Employer - www.mindfulemployer.net - is a UK-wide, NHS initiative. It is aimed at increasing awareness of mental health at work and providing support for businesses when recruiting and retaining staff.
- NHS choices - www.nhs.uk/livewell/mentalhealth - has a website that offers information and practical advice for anyone experiencing mental ill health.
- Remploy - www.remploy.co.uk - offers a free and confidential Workplace Mental Health Support Service for anyone absent from work or finding work difficult because of a mental health condition. It aims to help people remain in, or return to, their role.
- Rethink Mental Illness - www.rethink.org - is a voluntary sector provider of mental health services offering support groups, advice and information on mental health and problems.