Mentally healthy workplaces work better for everyone. As a manager, you’ve got an important role to play in creating a mentally healthy workplace for all employees, as well as providing individual support for anyone experiencing a mental health condition.

We know that the employee-manager relationship is crucial for someone going through a tough time. Having a supportive manager can often mean the difference between that person being able to stay in their role or leaving the workplace. It might feel like a lot of responsibility, but you don’t need to be a mental health expert to provide support and understanding.

Even small changes can improve productivity and team morale while reducing absenteeism and staff turnover – and many of our suggestions are simply good business practice. 

1. Create a mentally healthy environment for your team

As a manager, you can influence the experience your employees have at work – either positively or negatively. Start by asking your team about any pain points or areas that cause stress, and work together to find solutions. You could create an action plan at a team level or check out our tips for small or medium/large businesses. If you work for a larger company, you could speak to other senior colleagues about rolling out organisation-wide initiatives.

2. Be open about mental health at work

Words often speak just as loudly as actions, and what you say can make a real difference by helping to reduce stigma. Talking about mental wellbeing the same way you would physical health is a good place to start – this can also help people feel confident to ask for support when they need it. 

3. Offer support and understanding

If someone you manage is experiencing anxiety or depression, there are a number of practical things you can do to support them. As well as checking in regularly and showing concern, a structured plan will help you figure out a way forward together. It’s all about finding practical solutions to support the employee as they recover and stay well. This might include swapping tasks they find difficult or stressful, being flexible with work rosters and schedules, or changing their work environment.

Legislation provides protection for people with mental health conditions

4. Understand your legal responsibilities

Someone experiencing a mental health condition is protected by anti-discrimination, work health and safety and privacy law, and there are a number of requirements that must be met by employers. Our rights and responsibilities page goes through the different legislation so you can check you're fulfilling your obligations.

5. Take care of yourself

Part of being a manager is about leading by example – and that includes managing your stress levels and striking a positive work-life balance. You can also set expectations for your team by avoiding emailing or calling staff outside work hours, limiting overtime and leaving on time wherever possible.