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Mental health problems affect 1 in 6 workers so identifying poor mental health in the workplace is something we all need to be getting right. Take a look around your team, can you easily see who may be suffering with stress, anxiety or another condition? No, I didn’t think you would be able to.

Mental Health is something that we all have and some days it’s better than others, just like our physical health. And just like with physical health it affects our performance. What you do as an employer to support any kind of ill health is what your employees will truly value.

Even though mental health is a more widely acknowledged and discussed many people will still try to hard to cover up the fact that they are struggling, a smile can be a wonderful mask and is tricky to see behind.

If you do think a member of your team is experiencing a mental health problem how confident are you about dealing with it? How do you raise the topic without making the employee feel worse?

MIND have created a guide on how best to go about having a conversation about someone’s mental health.

Choose an appropriate place somewhere private and quiet, possibly away from the workplace

Encourage people to talk ask simple, open and non-judgmental questions and let people explain in their own words how their mental health problem manifests, the triggers, how it impacts on their work and what support they need.

Don’t make assumptions don’t try to guess what symptoms an employee might have and how these might affect their ability to do their job.

Listen to people and respond flexibly everyone’s experience of a mental health problem is different so treat people as individuals and focus on the person, not the problem.

Be honest and clear if there are specific grounds for concern, like high absence levels or impaired performance, it’s important to address these at an early stage.

Ensure confidentiality people need to be reassured of confidentiality. It’s sensitive information and should be shared with as few people as possible. Create strict policies to ensure this. Discuss with the individual what information they would like shared and with whom.

Develop an action plan work with your employee to develop an individual action plan which identifies the signs of their mental health problem, triggers for stress, the possible impact on their work, who to contact in a crisis, and what support people need. The plan should include an agreed time to review the support measures to see if they’re working.

Encourage people to seek advice and support people should speak to their GP about available support from the NHS such as talking therapy.

Seek advice and support yourself the Mind Infoline and local Minds can provide information to employers too. Occupational Health (if you have it) can provide tailored advice to support both employers and employees. If relationships have become strained or confrontational mediation can help – some local Minds run mediation services, as do ACAS. Small businesses can access the free Health for Work Adviceline service provided by NHS occupational health services.

Reassure people they may not always be ready to talk straight away so it’s important you outline what support is available, tell them your door is always open and let them know you’ll make sure they get the support they need.

For more advice from MIND on dealing with mental health in the workplace visit their helpful guide here

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