As managers, how can we best support team members who disclose a mental health issue?

2nd February 2020

Skills to help us talk about peoples’ psychological wellbeing isn’t something that’s usually included as part of your typical leadership development intervention is it?

Speaking with a number of both experienced and newish line managers recently; there was definitely a sense that they felt ill equipped to handle the range of mental health issues that team members bring. There’s a fear of saying the wrong thing and a massive question mark over what’s the best thing to do in that situation.

So here’s a summary of what I think’s important when we’re supporting a team member who’s struggling with mental health issues;


Enable them to say as little or as much as they need to. It’s worth remembering that it might be taking the person a huge amount of energy and personal resources to ask for help.


it goes without saying that we really need to focus 100% of our attention and really listen to what’s being said, without judgment is absolutely key. Just feeling that another person is prepared to give you air time, without judgment goes part of the way to helping the person feel accepted and validated.

Stick with it (or them)

This is a tough one, but it’s really important that we’re prepared to approach and tackle the most difficult of conversations. Being prepared to ask if someone’s OK and then sit them while they talk about what’s troubling, really can help people feel that they’re being heard and supported.


Depending on their trouble it might be that you can encourage them to access professional support. Whether that’s via HR, their GP or through your organisation’s EAP. So be ready to signpost where they can access additional support if they feel that they need it. 

There’s no doubt about it, these types of conversations are tough. They require us to connect with others as humans first and managers second.

So the next time you find yourself talking to someone about their psychological wellbeing or mental health….

Think…..what E.L.S.E. can I do?