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Use this page to familiarise yourself with the early signs of mental health problems and create a supportive working environment.
CIPD’s 2020 Health and Wellbeing at Work Survey report found that three-fifths of organisations saw an increase in the number of reported common mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, in the workplace in the previous 12 months.
When someone is experiencing a mental health problem they may show unhealthy working and volunteering practices, including:
Unhealthy practices are often driven by unmanageable workloads and excessive pressure.
The Mental Health Foundation has more information about the impact work and working conditions can have on mental health.
If an employee or a volunteer is experiencing poor mental health, you may notice some changes in their behaviour. They might be:
If the problems become more severe, you might also notice signs of:
If you notice these signs, it may be a good time to start a conversation with your employee or volunteer.
Bupa UK has more information on the early signs of mental health problems.
There are lots of ways you can create a supportive working environment and promote good mental health and wellbeing at work.
Creating a culture of understanding and openness can help everyone in an organisation. Leaders and managers should make sure staff and volunteers know their wellbeing matters to them.
Altruist Enterprises has guidance to help you devise a mental wellbeing strategy for your organisation.
Read about how your wellbeing as a leader impacts your organisation’s culture in this blog from ACEVO’s head of policy, Kristiana Wrixon.
It’s a good idea to have a mental health and wellbeing policy which shows what actions you’ll take to support staff and volunteers’ wellbeing. For example:
St Johns Ambulance’s workplace wellbeing policy guide has many helpful suggestions.
Managing your staff and volunteers effectively and making sure they have the resources they need to complete their tasks will support their wellbeing. Where possible, you can do this by:
An individual’s wellbeing will be supported if their role feels worthwhile and of value. This can be through:
Read our guidance on:
What Works for Wellbeing has information on the benefits of financial wellbeing and tips on how to improve it.
Psychological safety means people feel safe when they work or volunteer. This includes knowing they’ll be treated with respect and dignity and will be listened to. It also includes knowing there won’t be negative consequences if they:
The King’s Fund has a video on the importance of psychological safety at work.
Research shows that a feeling of belonging is important to people and can help motivate them. Providing enough opportunities for high-quality social interactions at work can:
You can help staff and volunteers create meaningful relationships by:
Business Balls has tips on team building activities.
GOV.UK provides public information about their Civil Service Networks. You could use this as a starting point for developing your own networks.
Managers play an important role in supporting the wellbeing of staff and volunteers. They can do this by:
If you manage people, there are some questions you could consider asking.
Having the answers to these questions can help you establish a positive relationship with staff and volunteers and support their mental wellbeing.
One-to-one meetings are a good opportunity to check in on how an individual is feeling. Don’t assume they’re fine if you’re not seeing outward signs that something is wrong. Mental health problems are not always visible. It’s important for managers to build and model open communication, and to be consistent in their responses and actions, so individuals feel able to use these opportunities to share.
When it comes to what works best for our mental wellbeing, we’re all different. To support individual wellbeing at work, you’ll need to adapt your approach and consider:
Mind’s wellness action plans can give you some discussion ideas for these meetings.
There may be times when the people you manage need more support. They may come to you with a problem or you may notice some warning signs. If that happens, it’s important to talk to them. Approach the conversation with empathy and listen.
Some tips for talking to staff and volunteers about mental health include:
Last reviewed: 01 August 2022Help us improve this content
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