How to Manage an Employee with Poor Mental Health

The Need for Mental Health Understanding and Support in the Workplace

Mental health is a vital component of the overall wellbeing of any employee. Unfortunately, many managers do not feel able to identify and support employees with mental health difficulties, which can exacerbate problems.  Poor mental health can manifest itself in a number of ways, including reduced productivity, increased absenteeism, and increased risk of accidents. Knowing how best to support and manage an employee with poor mental health is essential for any business that strives for success and long-term growth.

The need for mental health awareness in the workplace is particularly critical today due to the increase in remote working that arose during the pandemic. Remote working in particular can often lead to feelings of isolation or disconnection from colleagues, which can further exacerbate existing mental health issues. It is essential therefore for employers to be aware of their employees’ mental wellbeing and create a culture that promotes open dialogue on the subject. We help employers identify poor mental health in employees and the workplace as a whole.

Stress management

The Necessities

Training staff in measures that help promote positive mental health should be incorporated into any business strategy. This could include providing access to specialised support services or running activities such as yoga classes or mindfulness sessions as part of team building exercises. Cultivating a culture whereby individuals feel encouraged to take preventative measures, and allows them to prioritise their wellbeing, will increase resilience within your teams.

Open and effective communication is fundamental when it comes to managing employees who are struggling with their mental health. Having various tools for communication can increase the likelihood that employees will disclose their difficulties so that they can be supported. Employers can create channels through which employees can share concerns without fear of judgement or repercussion, such as having dedicated wellbeing channels between employees and line managers. Utilising these channels allows employers to take preventative action, such as offering extra support or flexible working hours – rather than reacting after the issue has already escalated and the member of staff feels overwhelmed and unable to manage work.

Finally, employers should provide adequate resources for employees who need additional help with their own wellbeing or that of their colleagues’. This could include having access to support networks or Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), which offer advice and guidance on how to better manage poor mental health in the workplace.

Overall, developing a comprehensive strategy for managing employee poor mental health is essential for any business that seeks long-term success and stability. Investing time and resources into creating an environment where people feel safe talking about their own wellbeing will pay off many times over in terms of improved morale, higher productivity, and reduced costs associated with absenteeism and ill-health retirement due to stress-related ailments.

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Signs of Poor Mental Health in Employees

Knowing how to manage and support employees with poor mental health can feel overwhelming for managers. Being able to recognise the signs of poor mental health in your staff can help you to identify when support may be required.

There are numerous signs that could indicate an employee may be struggling with their mental health, and it is unlikely that any single symptom or behaviour will be present in all cases. Some common warning signs include:

– Mood changes: employees displaying uncharacteristic or out-of-context emotions may be struggling with their emotional and mental wellbeing. Similarly, if an employee who is usually very cheerful suddenly appears consistently irritable or sad, then again this could indicate that might be struggling with their mental health.

– Changes in behaviour: Uncharacteristic behaviour can also indicate something may be wrong. This could include things like increased absenteeism, missing deadlines, or becoming easily distracted during work tasks.

– Noticeable physical changes: Poor physical health can often go hand-in-hand with poor mental wellbeing, so look out for signs such as weight gain or loss, lack of energy or motivation, and fatigue.

– Loss of interest in activities and hobbies: Someone who normally loves going out with friends or taking part in activities may suddenly become more withdrawn from these things, which could indicate low mood or anxiety.

– Low self-esteem: Low confidence and self-worth often indicate challenges with mental health – watch out for employees who appear to minimise their achievements and appear to regularly doubt their abilities.

It’s important to note that it is normal to experience fluctuations in mood and some behavioural changes, however if you notice any of these warning signs occurring for longer than a week, then it may be time to reach out to the individual and offer support if necessary. The Equality Act 2010 states that all staff, regardless of health issues, should be treated equally in the workplace.

Understanding Legal Considerations

When managing employees with poor mental health, it is important to understand the legal frameworks that exist to protect both you and your employees. In the UK, The Equality Act (2010) exists to protect employees from discrimination related to mental health conditions along with other protected characteristics. The Data Protection Act (2018) also requires employers to prevent the unnecessary sharing of information related to employees mental health and wellbeing and to prioritise confidentiality. Prioritising abiding by these legal frameworks will also help to reduce the likelihood of employees feeling discriminated against or stigmatised due to their mental health.

Employers should be mindful of how they handle data pertaining to an employee’s mental health information, and ensure that it is kept confidential at all times. This includes making sure that no other staff members have access to this information without unnecessarily or without the individual’s consent.

It is also essential for employers to understand what constitutes reasonable adjustments for individuals who suffer from poor mental health so that they can provide appropriate support where necessary. This could include allowing flexible working hours or providing additional time off if requested by the individual. They can also consider offering access to mental health services such as counselling sessions or medication reviews if needed, or providing additional training or support in order for the employee to better cope with their daily tasks.

By taking into account these legal and privacy considerations, employers will be able to prioritise the individual’s rights and dignity at all times, improving outcomes for the individual.

Effective Communication with Employees Experiencing Poor Mental Health

Effective communication is essential for managing employees with poor mental health. Good communication can support employees to feel supported and respected, which can help to alleviate stress and anxiety levels.

When communicating with employees experiencing poor mental health, it is important to approach the conversation with compassion and understanding. Employers should show respect for the individual’s difficulties and provide support without judgement or criticism. Active listening skills can help increase your understanding of the individual’s experiences and facilitate you in supporting them.

Before speaking to an employee about their mental health, it is important to be aware of any legal considerations such as workplace policies on privacy or data protection regulations that must be adhered to. In addition, employers should ensure they are familiar with any external resources available that could provide additional support for the employee such as occupational therapist or local mental health charities.

Establishing ground rules before beginning a conversation about an employee’s mental wellbeing is also key for successful communication. Employees should be given time away from work if required, however employers should still make sure that job performance expectations are maintained.

Overall, establishing effective lines of communication with employees experiencing poor mental health can have a positive impact on both individuals and businesses alike by, helping employees stay productive while providing them with the necessary support systems in place. Taking steps towards creating a supportive working environment can help create a happier workplace which in turn can lead to improved morale and ultimately better productivity within the organisation as whole.

Implementing Strategies to Support Employees’ Mental Wellbeing

The first step to creating an effective wellbeing strategy for employees is to identify threats to mental health within the workplace. These could include lone working, working unsociable hours or low staffing levels as examples. It’s important to be aware that not all mental health issues are readily identifiable, so it’s essential that you establish open communication channels between managers and staff members to learn from their experience. This will increase the likelihood of an employee feeling able to share concerns with their line managers.

When implementing wellbeing strategies it’s essential that employers put the safety of their staff first and foremost in their minds at all times. Employers should seek advice from professionals specialising in mental health if required, so that any wellbeing plans are designed around the individual and their unique needs.

It is also important for employers to set out clear policies and procedures for managing mental health difficulties in the workplace. These policies should cover areas such as how to manage absences related to mental health, how managers should respond to any challenging behaviours and where employees can access support e.g. HR, line managers. Additionally, providing access to external resources such as counselling services or Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) can be invaluable in helping employees manage their mental wellbeing more effectively.

Lastly, a culture of openness and acceptance within the workplace can go a long way towards facilitating employees to feel able to discuss any challenges they may be having with their mental health.  Encouraging conversations about experiencing stress or anxiety as examples, can normalise these as experiences and help break down stigmas. The less stigma, the more able individuals are likely to feel expressing themselves, without fear of recrimination or discrimination.

Mental Health Training for Managers

Mental health issues can quickly impact an employee’s ability to perform tasks and fulfill roles, making it essential that managers are well-versed in how to best manage an employee with poor mental health. Mental health training can equip managers with the skills and knowledge to support employees effectively and with sensitivity.

Training should provide the skills and knowledge needed to effectively identify, assess, intervene and manage individuals who are facing mental health issues, improving understanding of the impact of mental health issues on functioning, and offering knowledge of resources that individuals may access.

Many UK businesses offer mental health training for their managerial staff. These trainings often consist of both classroom instruction and practical activities designed to help managers build the necessary skills to confidently handle situations involving mental health issues. The courses typically cover topics such as: understanding mental illness; identifying signs of distress; communication techniques; creating an inclusive environment; problem solving strategies; developing action plans; legal considerations; and managing difficult conversations. At PMAC, all of our training courses are tailored to your organisation and the employees that will be attending, ensuring that your needs are met.

Additionally, some organisations may choose to provide post-training coaching or mentoring sessions with qualified clinicians or psychologists in order to build upon existing management skills while tackling real-life scenarios in a supportive environment. This allows managers to become even more confident when dealing with any number of issues related to mental health within their organisation.

Ultimately, providing your managers with comprehensive mental health training not only empowers them with the tools they need to tackle these difficult situations, but also sends a strong message about the importance you place on maintaining a positive work environment for all employees.

Resources to Support Employees Experiencing Poor Mental Health

As an employer, it is essential ensure your staff have access to resources that can help them manage their mental health. Here are some of the most helpful resources you can provide to help support employees facing poor mental health:

  1. Health Professionals: It’s vital that employees who are facing poor mental health have time to  access professional support from qualified healthcare professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists or counsellors.


  1. Mental Health Training: To help foster a better understanding of what all employees are going through, it’s important to invest in training sessions for everyone in the organisation. This training should include information about how to recognise signs of poor mental health and include strategies for managing it. The PMAC Mental Health & Wellbeing Training Programme provides businesses with everything they need to deliver this type of training to their staff.


  1. Self-Help Resources: Books, online tools and apps can provide self-help information and support without the need for a professional therapist. Many employers may want to consider providing these resources free or at discounted rates so their staff can take advantage when needed.


  1. Support Networks: Joining support networks specifically designed for people experiencing mental health difficulties can be invaluable in decreasing isolation and sharing strategies.


  1. Time Off Work: Sometimes the best solution is simply taking time away from work – whether taking a mental health day or using annual leave. Having this flexibility within your organisational policies will cultivate an environment where employees feel comfortable prioritising their mental health and wellbeing.


It is essential that employers make sure they have appropriate strategies in place to support employees who might struggle with mental health. PMAC’s bespoke mental health trainings could be the final piece of the puzzle, and help you to monitor and support wellbeing long-term.

Contact Us

If you need any guidance or assistance, we would be delighted to assist. 

We can help with;

  • Advising on appropriate training progammes

  • Providing workplace training

  • One to one staff coaching

  • Producing tools for managers and employees

  • Retainer services and ongoing support