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Resources to assist line managers in supporting team members with mental health difficulties

It makes sense to support employees who are struggling with mental health problems and enable them to work effectively and manage their own mental health in the workplace.

When supporting staff, it is important not to label people by focusing on a diagnosis. Instead, talk to them about how their condition impacts on their work and seek ways to actively support them to continue effectively in their role.

Back to Staying Safe and Well: Mental Health

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It’s a myth to think people with mental health problems can’t work.

One in six British workers are affected by conditions like anxiety, depression and stress every year. Mental health difficulties can affect anyone.

Almost half of all adults will experience at least one episode of depression during their lifetime (British Journal of Psychiatry 2005).

One in ten new mothers experiences postnatal depression.

About one in 100 people has a severe mental health problem.

Many people effectively manage their mental health problems alongside the demands of a job and daily life, sometimes with treatment and support.

Others experience symptoms of mental ill health but may never be diagnosed with a condition. As everyone’s experience of mental health is different – people with the same condition may have quite different symptoms and coping mechanisms – it is very important to work with people on an individual basis.


Legal obligations

Reasonable adjustments

titleMaking reasonable adjustments

The Equality Act 2010 recognises disability as being a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on the person’s ability to do normal daily activities. This means that ‘reasonable adjustments’ must be made to enable the person to do their job.

Adjustments can often be made by the line manager, but for more complex cases UHSE or Occupational Health advice may be needed.

The UK Government Department of Health published guidance in 2012 on making reasonable adjustments in the workplace.

titleAccess to Work

Access to Work can also help in providing a workplace assessment and will make recommendations for equipment and assistance, some of which can be funded by Access to Work. This must be initiated by the employee. Your department's HR Business Partner can assist with the application.

Health and Safety

titleHealth and Safety

No person should be more at risk of injury or ill health because of a mental health condition. Risk assessments must consider individual circumstances, especially if a person’s mental health condition or the effects of any medication may put themselves or others at increased risk. There may be tasks that are unsuitable for some people with some mental health conditions.

Advice from UHSE must be sought if there is any question in this respect. An Occupational Health referral may be required.


Sources of help and advice within the University

Seeking advice and assistance as soon as you identify a difficulty often means that a problem can be avoided or at least caught before it becomes a serious issue.

Your department’s HR Manager or HR Advisor (for Occupational Health referrals)

UHSE (for issues that may have a bearing on the health and safety of anyone at work, and for stress-related issues)

 Mental Health First Aid Course - highly recommended for anyone who wants to understand more about common mental health conditions, and how to support the person in getting the help they need.

Equalities and Diversity

Wiki pages:

Maintaining good mental health toolkit

Mental Health Awareness toolkit

It can be immensely helpful to read about people's experiences of their own mental health conditions as this can provide and insight into why people behave as they do.

The Time to Change web site blog pages contain a wealth of experiences from people with a wide range of conditions.

Share Your Story - University of Bath students and staff share their own experiences.




Other sources of information

Mental Health First Aid Line Managers' resource (new edition 2013)2016

Support from MIND, ACAS, Time to Change,  and CIPD.

A Wellness Action Plan can help support the mental health of individuals.

Rethink: Supporting someone with a mental illness

NHS: Returning to work after mental health issues When a mental health condition becomes a disability

Time to Change: Support for employees with mental health problems

Royal College of Psychiatrists: Work and Mental Health

MIND: Mental health at Work

MIND: How to support staff who are experiencing a mental health problem

Mental Health Foundation: Supporting colleagues

Mental Health Foundation: Tackling the Effects of Stress

Education Support Partnership: Get support (free resource for staff in H.E. and F.E. – including access to emergency counselling)

Listening skills

titleListening skills

One of the most helpful things you can do to support someone with a mental health condition is to simply listen to the person.

CIPD: Seven Top Techniques

Samaritans: Active Listening