For many people experiencing anxiety or depression, concerns over colleagues’ reactions or a lack of support can add to existing stresses. Being aware of potential barriers and taking steps to reduce these will help both individual employees and the workplace as a whole.

Barriers include:

  • fear that colleagues may find out about the diagnosis and possible negative reactions
  • loss of connection with work and co-workers
  • lack of support from employers and managers - this can be perceived or actual
  • uncertainty about the level or type of support available
  • stigma associated with mental health conditions
  • concerns that work-related contributors to stress, anxiety and depression have not been addressed.

The stigma surrounding

depression

and anxiety ‚Äčis a common barrier 

Speak openly about mental health conditions
in the workplace

Practical strategies to address barriers

Having the support of a manager or supervisor is the most crucial factor when it comes to remaining or returning to work with a mental health condition.

As a manager or leader you can:

  • provide mental health awareness training
  • speak openly about mental health conditions in the workplace and encourage others to do the same
  • communicate your commitment to equal opportunity and privacy, and develop policies where required 
  • promote a positive working environment by minimising workplace risks to mental health, such as job stress
  • draw on guidance from specialists or the employee's treating health professional (with their permission).

Some workplaces also have Manager Assistance Programs (MAPs), which are confidential advisory services for managers dealing with difficult situations. These can provide support and advice for handling mental health issues in the workplace, including the impact on the wider team. 

Managing team-related concerns

When a staff member experiences a mental health condition, it can affect the entire team.

Without clear communication from managers, there’s a risk that colleagues may judge the person to be ‘slacking off’ or not pulling their weight. To protect the employee's right to privacy, you may need to communicate what's going on without providing specific details of their condition.

It’s important to:

  • protect the employee’s right to privacy and confidentiality
  • identify and address any misconceptions team members may have about mental health
  • communicate information to the team regularly, giving them updates about how the situation is being managed
  • manage the impact of any absences on the team and distribute the workload appropriately
  • consider swapping tasks within the team to avoid other colleagues taking on an excessive workload
  • recognise when conflicts, gossip and bullying occur and be proactive in dealing with the situation. 

If you're dealing with a

difficult

situation, find out if your business has a 

Manager Assistance Program

‚Äčto support you