A guide to supporting your employees’ mental health and wellbeing

Tools & Resources

A guide to supporting your employees’ mental health and wellbeing

Key learnings

  • Mental health is as important as physical health and should be embedded into the culture of your business. 
  • Creating a positive workplace where mental health is openly discussed and recognised is one of the best ways to support the emotional wellbeing of your employees.   
  • Establishing networks of support throughout your business ensures all staff have somebody they can speak to should they need help.    

As an employer, you have a duty of care for your employees and creating an environment where employee mental health and wellbeing is promoted and supported will bring considerable benefits to your business. Not only will it decrease things like staff turnover, sickness and absenteeism – it also massively boosts employee engagement, productivity and innovation throughout your business. Here, we look at the steps you can take to support your employees’ mental health and wellbeing.  

Far from being a rarity that affects only a handful of people, mental health is something that everyone has to look after. It exists on a spectrum that can constantly change throughout a person’s life. Work-related stress, depression or anxiety caused employers to lose 17.1 million working days in 2022/23, according to a HSE report. 

Below you’ll find some steps you can take to support your employees’ mental health and wellbeing... 


Create a culture of openness 

Mental health is not a taboo subject, so we shouldn’t treat it like one. As a business, you need to create a workplace where staff feel comfortable talking about their mental health without worrying about any negative consequences or judgement.  

The best way you can do this is by sending out clear messaging from the top. If staff see senior leaders in a business speaking candidly about mental health, they will likely feel more comfortable discussing their own situation.  

As such, normalising conversations around mental health can be one of the best ways to eradicate any stigma or discrimination.  

From a staff member’s very first day, they should be given information around the business’s mental health strategy and the support available should they need it. Highlighting the presence of support systems before they are needed can reassure people and encourage them to ask for help.  

Another great way to embed mental health awareness throughout your business is to invite guest speakers. Hearing the lived experience of a person who has faced a mental health issue can be hugely impactful.   


Keep the conversation going  

Supporting employee mental health isn’t a tick box exercise. It is something that should constantly flow through your company’s culture.  

Keep the conversation going by effectively utilising things like internal communications, staff notice boards and company newsletters.  

There are tons of resources available online to distribute throughout your organisation. On the Mind website, you’ll find lots of ideas for activities for your workplace that helps to challenge misconceptions and encourage conversations.  

You can also share blogs, news stories, support schemes, top tips and useful websites with your employees and encourage discussion around what you have shared.  

For example, you could share some top tips for reducing anxiety with your staff and comment on which one you found most effective - then, ask employees which ones work for them or if they have any others to share. This is a great way to get your staff talking about mental health.  


Listen to your staff 

Making sure each staff member in your business feels included and involved increases motivation and instils a sense of self-worth, which can be great for wellbeing.  

You should keep staff well informed on organisational developments and, where possible, include them in decision-making processes.  

Staff surveys are also an excellent way to gauge how your employees are feeling. You should encourage honesty and ensure that responses are acted on because if an issue arises, it is up to you to solve it.  

Another great idea is to hold regular one-to-ones between employees and their line managers. This will give individuals an opportunity to speak privately about any thoughts or concerns they have, creating a safe environment for staff to potentially discuss their mental health. 


Promote and facilitate a healthy work-life balance 

Working long hours with few breaks can be one of the biggest triggers for mental ill health at work. Saying you promote a healthy work-life balance is one thing, but there’s a problem if you aren’t enabling it for your staff.  

There are lots of ways you can support and enable a good work-life balance, like:  

  • Focusing on productivity rather than hours worked  
  • Reviewing staff workloads  
  • Enforcing breaks 
  • Facilitating annual leave  
  • Offering flexible working where possible  
  • Supporting childcare needs  
  • Leading by example 

Mental health first aider 

Like a physical first aider, a mental health first aider is an individual within your company who has been trained to support staff members who could be struggling with their mental health.  

Mental health first aiders can look out for signs and symptoms of mental health related issues and can provide non-judgmental support and advice.  

Appointing mental health first aiders within your business won’t just provide a means of early intervention that can often lead to quicker recovery, it will also further prove your commitment to supporting your employees.  

Mental health first aiders (MHFAs) can also act as advocates for wellbeing and mental health, raising awareness of issues and creating a culture of acceptance that will benefit your entire business.  

You can read more about MHFAs here.


Encourage physical activity 

Research has shown that physical activity can improve mental health and emotional wellbeing, on top of countless other benefits.  

Physical activity can improve sleep, mood, self-esteem and build personal connections. Physical exercise releases feel good hormones and chemicals that help our brains manage stress and anxiety, even decreasing the likelihood of depressive episodes.  

There are many different ways you, as an employer, can promote exercise throughout your business.  

By no means should you force employees to exercise, or try to prescribe physical activity as a way to treat a mental health issue – but building physical activity into your company culture could boost the physical and mental wellbeing of your workforce.  

Consider implementing things like:  

  • In-office workouts – even low intensity exercise classes, yoga or pilates can inject feel-good endorphins into your employees’ day.  
  • Gym perks – offering discounts for gym memberships is a great way to encourage staff to be more active, as well as making them feel valued and supported.  
  • Step challenges – For employees who are able, think about setting a monthly step goal for employees to reach – offer incentives or encourage walking meetings to help staff get their steps up.  
  • Cycling schemes – cycling has huge health benefits and provides staff with an emission-free transport method which will reduce the overall carbon-footprint of your business.  

Respond to people as individuals 

Every individual’s experience of mental health and mental illness is unique, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. If a team member approaches you about their mental health, the discussion must be on their terms.  

Don’t pressure somebody to tell you what is going on - instead, let them know they can share as much or as little as they like.  

Avoid taking control of the situation, and never try to diagnose any illnesses. Instead, offer to help them book a GP appointment or work with them to find the appropriate help, should they want it.  

Always follow up with a staff member who you have spoken to about their mental health. Maintaining an open channel of communication will emphasise support and allow you to assess whether the situation is improving or worsening.  

If you feel the person you’re talking to is in immediate danger, do not leave them alone and contact 999 or Samaritans on freephone 116 123.   

Next steps...

  • Review what your company is doing to support staff mental health and consider what more you could do.   
  • Conduct staff surveys to establish how employees are feeling and what support they might require.   
  • Look at appointing a mental health first aider within your business – Mental Health First Aid England offers internationally-recognised training courses.   
  • Think about offering employees incentives that encourage them to be more active, which in turn can improve their mental wellbeing.