How Do You Manage Somebody or Performance Manage Someone When You Know They Struggle with Mental Health

Image description: Managers at ORX Association at their Supportive Conversations course with EDP Training.

In the workplace, mental health is often discussed in hushed tones, yet it affects millions of workers worldwide. The delicate balance between supporting employees with mental health challenges while maintaining productivity and performance can be hard to attain. How do you navigate the fine line between managing somebody’s performance and recognising their struggle with mental health?

The article offers insights into supporting employees facing mental health problems while addressing performance management concerns. Let’s dive in.

Mental Health in the Workplace

When managing someone who struggles with mental health, empathy and understanding are crucial. Recognising that mental health is a spectrum, and each individual’s experience is unique can help employers create an environment that supports employees’ wellbeing.

Currently,1 out of every 6 workers is grappling with a mental health issue, such as anxiety, depression, or stress. These challenges often hinder individuals from reaching their peak performance. For instance, mental health struggles can affect productivity, creativity, and job satisfaction. Addressing these issues not only supports the wellbeing of employees but also contributes to a more positive and thriving work environment.

How to Recognise Signs of Mental Health Struggles

Recognising signs of mental health struggles is a crucial skill for effective management. It’s important to understand that these signs may not always be overt and can manifest in various ways, such as irritability, changes in behaviour or work performance, and withdrawal from social interactions. Paying attention to subtle cues like increased absenteeism or decreased productivity can provide valuable insights into an employee’s state of mind.

In addition to behavioural changes, workplaces need a culture of open communication. Supporting employees’ mental health challenges creates an environment where early intervention and support are more readily available.  

To further support this initiative, resources such as the Mental Health Foundation’s A-Z of mental health can be invaluable. This comprehensive guide provides information on various mental health problems, offering insights and resources that can aid in better understanding and addressing mental health challenges in the workplace.

How to Create Supportive Conversations at Work

Supportive work environments are key to managing individuals struggling with mental health. Here are some tips to do this:

Promote open communication – Make sure employees feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings so that you can better understand their needs. Encourage regular check-ins and team meetings that allow everyone to voice their opinions and concerns without judgment.

Show by example – As a leader, your behaviour sets the tone for the entire team. Demonstrate empathy, understanding, and openness to encourage others to do the same.

Promote work-life balance – Encourage employees to prioritise their mental and physical wellbeing outside work to boost productivity. Implement flexible work hours, offer remote working options, and respect personal time off to support work-life balance. When employees feel empowered to care for themselves outside of work, they’re more likely to bring their best selves to the job. This also helps create a sense of trust between employers and employees, leading to increased loyalty and commitment within the organisation.

Seek feedback and continuously improve – By actively soliciting input from employees on their experiences in the workplace, leaders can gain valuable insights into areas that may need adjustment or enhancement.

Managers and line managers have the power to actively support their employees. We acknowledge that, although a rewarding act, it can sometimes be difficult and even a daunting task. At EDP Training we offer a bespoke Supportive Conversations course that is specifically designed for managers to have supportive conversations with their employees on their mental health.

Our managing director, Bianca Jones, created our Supportive Conversations course with line managers in mind. Please see here what Bianca had to say at our most recent course.



How to Communicate with Employees About Mental Health

Normalise the conversation: Open dialogue about mental health should be encouraged by employers. Mental health dialogue should be encouraged by employers. By destigmatising this topic, employees will feel more comfortable discussing their struggles and seeking help when needed.

Foster trust and confidentiality: One way to approach this is by setting clear expectations around confidentiality and privacy when it comes to mental health discussions. This can be achieved through training managers and team leaders on how to handle sensitive information, emphasising the importance of listening without judgement, and clearly outlining the circumstances under which information may need to be shared with HR or higher management.

Check in regularly: Checking in regularly with your employees shows that you care about their wellbeing and opens the door for them to feel comfortable discussing any difficulties they may be facing.

Provide resources and assistance: This can involve connecting them with mental health professionals, employee assistance programmes, or support groups to ensure they have access to the help they need.