How to recognise and support mental health issues in your team?

A third of line managers would struggle to identify mental health issues within their team, according to new research from Bupa.

Mental health and wellbeing support in the workplace has significantly improved in recent years. However Bupa research highlights that line managers would still benefit from support and advice to identify mental health issues within their teams, with 34 per cent of managers saying they would struggle to detect if their colleagues were experiencing a mental health issue.

With many saying they would like more guidance from their employer, Bupa has launched a free guide online for line managers. It is designed to support line managers – within any size of business – with their approach to mental health in the workplace.

These findings come at a time when NHS figures identify that almost a third of fit notes issued by GPs are for mental health problems – making it the most common reason for people to signed off from work.

Recognition of the role employer support plays in helping colleagues with mental health conditions is clear as two in five (41 per cent) line managers have already received related training from their employer. And conversations around mental health at work are being reframed with more than a third (35 per cent) of employees feel more comfortable talking to their manager about their mental health than before. However the research suggests that more guidance is needed as a third (30 per cent) of those with line management responsibility say they would not know what to do if someone in their team had mental health issues.

Dr Paula Franklin, UK medical director at Bupa says, ‘It is great to see how the conversation around mental health has evolved over time. People are now more willing to discuss their mental health challenges at work, this early intervention can play a key role in improving their recovery.

Mental health issues are now the number one reason why people are signed off work. We partner with businesses of all sizes and many want to support their people and are investing in training. However it is clear that there is more to be done to ensure that all line managers feel comfortable broaching the subject of mental health and are confident about the ways that they can support their people.

‘We created this guide to empower line managers to be able to identify the signs that someone may need mental health support and give them the confidence to start an important conversation about mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.’

The online Mental Health guide provides practical tips and advice on how to promote good mental health, and how to identify and support someone experiencing mental health issues. The guide highlights the importance of:

  • Creating a wellbeing strategy that ensures that supporting employee wellbeing remains a priority
  • Promoting mental health and wellbeing initiatives in the workplace
  • Demonstrating that wellbeing matters to senior leaders
  • Being approachable and providing opportunities for employees to discuss their mental health
  • Empowering people to be able to take time off to attend medical appointments or treatment; and
  • Making adjustments to the working environment and working hours of someone coping with mental health challenges
  • Further reading on mental health issues

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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