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Supporting employees with mental health issues

  • Blog
  • 24 August 2016

Trying to understand the issues and the needs of the employee, as many members of FSB are doing already, is usually the right choice. When ignored, these sorts of problems can cause issues within the workplace, but if dealt with correctly, employees can be supported and kept from going on sickness leave, maintaining business productivity and saving you money.

Research has also shown that, if supported, employees often go on to become more motivated, engaged and loyal - factors that will be beneficial to any SME.

It is also worth remembering that under the Equality Act employees with mental health issues may be classed as disabled, meaning that it is necessary for you to be aware of relevant discrimination laws.

Supporting employees with mental health issues

How to Offer Support

Honesty and openness will be key to achieving a successful outcome. You will need to initiate a friendly but honest conversation that can form the basis for establishing how much support your employee needs. You can then start formulating a plan of action.

Ensure that your employee understands that you want to help and that what they say will be kept confidential. Offer plenty of reassurance, and be pro-active in trying to find the best solutions, such as offering to make changes to their role if necessary.

It might also be a good time to look at your company's culture overall. Are you doing all you can to create a good environment for people to work in, one where support is freely available, or are there factors within your organisation that could be exacerbating problems with stress or depression, for example?

If an employee has been absent, try to agree to a good return plan, perhaps allowing them to build up their hours gradually. You should also try to stay as flexible as possible in terms of their working hours as they re-adjust back into the workplace, trying to combine the needs of your business with those of the individual.

It can be difficult if you're faced with an employee who is displaying signs of mental illness but is not accepting there is a problem or is not dealing with their issues. Try to create an environment where you can talk to them honestly and point them in the direction of their GP or to the Mind charity website, where there is a wide range of advice and tools available to help.

FSB Care from the FSB

FSB members with a serious health condition have free access to a personal nurse adviser - providing practical information and emotional support.

Find out more