If you’re concerned that someone you manage may be experiencing depression or anxiety, it’s important to take action. Having a supportive manager can mean the difference between someone recovering faster and staying in their role, or leaving the workforce.

Start by having a conversation with them, especially:

  • if you feel work standards or relationships are being compromised
  • if you’re concerned that the person is a danger to themselves or others
  • if a staff member tells you they are feeling suicidal or planning to end their life take this very seriously and encourage them to seek support immediately.

What do I need to know about the recovery process?

Recovery from anxiety and depression is an individual process that varies from person to person. As with physical health conditions, the road to recovery can be rocky at times and many people encounter setbacks.

For someone experiencing depression or anxiety, work can play a vital role in their recovery. It can provide structure and routine, contribute to a sense of purpose, and provide financial security and social connection.



Physical and mental health go hand in hand.

For most people, recovery will involve an ongoing wellbeing plan and treatment. This can include:

  • learning to manage or avoid things that may trigger setbacks
  • recognising the early warning signs of relapses
  • learning new ways to reduce and manage stress
  • eating well and exercising regularly
  • getting enough sleep
  • finding time for the things you enjoy
  • spending time with supportive friends and family
  • regular appointments with health professionals.

There are lots of effective treatment options for depression and anxiety, including medical, psychological and lifestyle strategies. Most people will benefit from a combination of treatments, and what works may vary from person to person.



What can I do to help?

As a manager or supervisors, you can play an important role in supporting an employee’s recovery. Helpful steps you can take include:

  • Being open about mental health in the workplace.
  • Maintaining the employee’s privacy
  • With their consent, involve other managers and leaders where required
  • Seeking written permission from the employee to speak to their treating health professional, beginning as soon as possible, with regular updates during the recovery process.
  • Developing a plan with the employee, incorporating any adjustments and strategies that will support them to remain at or return to work
  • Exploring the possibility of staying at work before assuming the employee will need time off.
  • If you work in a larger organisation, engaging your HR team or an occupational rehabilitation provider to provide additional support. Ensure clear channels of communication between all parties.
  • Communicating with the rest of the team, to make the employee feel more comfortable about any changes to his or her work arrangements. Discuss with the employee how and what they would like others to be told.
  • Managing absences where they are required. Keeping in touch with the employee during any period of leave, and supporting them on their return.

Guidance for managers




Discuss with the employee how
and what they would like others
to be told