The workplace can be an important place to talk about mental health. It’s easy to shy away from the thought of talking about mental health with your boss, colleagues, or employees. But hear us out.

The workplace is where lots of us spend a huge amount of our time. And if we’re struggling with our mental health, it can have a big impact on our work. Employees might start to feel like they’re not performing as well as they could; they might start to feel isolated; or relationships with colleagues might suffer.

Why is it important to talk about mental health?

Throughout the rest of this guide, we’ll explore why it’s important to talk about mental health at work for both employers and employees. Let’s get started.

Talking about our mental health at work can be difficult. But, if it feels right, it can help to connect you with others who may have experienced similar issues.

Mental health issues can affect anybody. But, unlike physical health which is openly discussed, mental health can often be stigmatised, which can make it difficult to talk about.

However, it’s important to remember that struggling with your mental health or living with a mental health issue is nothing to be ashamed of.  1 in 4 people may experience a mental health issue of some kind each year in England. Many people struggle with mental illness on a daily basis. By talking about mental health, we can help break down the stigma and make it easier for people to seek help and support.

Talking About Mental Health at Work

Reason 1: To Support Suicide Prevention 

Talking about mental health at work can help to create an environment in which employees can feel comfortable reaching out for support. If an employee is struggling with mental health issues, they may be more likely to seek help if they know that their workplace is supportive. 

Reason 2: To Support Employees Living With Mental Health Issues

Talking about mental health at work helps employers support mental health issues at work. Employees that are affected by mental health issues like depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, or even substance abuse issues, may find it difficult to cope with their condition and continue to work.

By talking about mental health at work, employers and colleagues can help to create an environment that is understanding and supportive. This can make it easier for employees to manage any mental health issues and continue working without stigma.

Reason 3: To Reduce the Stigma Surrounding Mental Health

Joining the mental health conversation at work can help to reduce the stigma attached to mental health issues. This is important because the stigma surrounding mental health can prevent people from seeking help.

By talking about mental health at work openly and without judgement, employers and colleagues can help create a positive attitude towards mental health. This could encourage employees, who may be struggling, to speak up and get the help they need.

Reason 4: To Help Others Do the Same

If you talk openly about mental health, you could help encourage others to do the same. This is especially true if you are in a leadership position.

If you open up a conversation about mental health, your employees may feel more comfortable doing the same. This can create a domino effect that could lead to more people discussing and seeking help for any mental health issues they may have. As part of your organisation’s leadership team, you could help to make a real difference to the way mental health is viewed and talked about.

Reason 5: To Foster a Sense of Community

When mental health is openly discussed in the workplace, it can help to improve the overall culture, and foster a sense of community in your organisation. This is because employees may feel more comfortable being themselves, which can lead to better relationships and communication.

Additionally, talking about mental health at work can help to create an understanding and supportive environment. This can promote good mental health and benefit everyone in the workplace. When employees feel like they are part of a supportive community, they are more likely to be productive and engaged in their work. This can lead to better overall job satisfaction and even a decrease in employee turnover rates.

Reason 6: To Help Employees Seek Treatment 

It’s also important to talk about mental health at work to encourage employees to seek help or treatment if necessary. 

If you have a  Mental Health First Aider at work, you can signpost employees to the right mental health professional or service when necessary. This can help employees get the right help and treatment they need to improve their mental health.

Reason 7: To Spot Early Warning Signs of Poor Mental Health

Spotting the early warning signs of mental ill-health can help prevent issues from escalating. Some early warning signs of poor mental health include:

    • Changes in physical appearance or hygiene

    • Increase in absenteeism

    • Uncharacteristic outbursts of anger or emotion

    • Withdrawal from social activities or interactions

    • Sudden changes in work performance

If you are able to spot these early warning signs, you can take action to support someone. This could involve signposting them to the right resources or services, or simply having a conversation with them about their wellbeing.

Reason 8: To Improve Employee Retention Rates

If employees feel like their mental health is being supported in the workplace, they may be more likely to stay within the organisation. This may be because they feel valued and appreciated, which can lead to better overall job satisfaction. This can also benefit your company’s reputation, as it may be seen as a supportive and inclusive organisation.

Reason 9: To Reduce Business Costs Related To Mental Health

Unsupported mental health problems amongst employees can lead to a number of business costs, such as:

    • Reduced productivity costs

    • Increased absenteeism costs

    • Higher staff turnover rates

If you begin the mental health conversation in the workplace and support employees with mental health issues, you could help to reduce these costs. This can benefit your organisation as a whole, as well as the individual employees.

Additionally, employees who feel like their mental health is being supported are less likely to take time off work due to mental health-related absences. This can help to improve employee productivity and decrease absenteeism rates.

To assess the cost of mental health-related absenteeism and presenteeism on your business, try using the HMRC Workplace Wellbeing Tool to help. Our HMRC Tool Guide can help you get started.


Your Next Steps

In conclusion, there are many reasons why it’s important to talk about mental health at work. And now you might be wondering exactly how to talk about mental health at work. What are your next steps? 

Create an Open Culture Around Mental Health at Work

To create an open culture around mental health at work, try the following:

    • Encourage frank and open conversations about mental health. This could be done through regular check-ins with employees, or by setting up an anonymous feedback system.

    • Make sure all employees feel comfortable talking about their mental health without fear of discrimination. This includes managers and senior leaders.

Create a Safe Space for Employees to Talk About Mental Health

To create a safe space for employees to talk about mental health, you could try the following:

    • Set up a Mental Health First Aid programme. This will give employees someone to talk to about mental health, without fear of judgement.

    • Encourage employees to take regular breaks whether they’re in an office or part of a remote team. This could include going out for a walk or taking a mental health day during a busy or stressful time.

Invest in Company-Wise Accredited Mental Health Training

Finally, invest in company-wide Mental health First Aid training. This will ensure that all employees are aware of the signs and symptoms of poor mental health, and know how to support their colleagues.

There are a variety of mental health training programmes available that could benefit your business, including:

Mental health in the workplace is an important issue that should be given the attention it deserves. By following the tips above, you can create a supportive and inclusive environment where employees feel comfortable talking about their mental health. This will benefit both your employees and your business as a whole.

If you would like to learn more about how to support mental health in the workplace, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. At Great Minds At Work, we offer a range of accredited Mental Health First Aid courses and resources that can help you create a mentally healthy workplace.