EAP Corner

Ways Managers Can Support Employees’ Mental Health

When people say they’re struggling, you won’t always know what to say or do. What’s most important is that you are making the space to hear how your team members are truly doing. Knowing that they can share is what matters.

Have you managed employees dealing with depression, anxiety, or other mental health illnesses? Even in the most uncertain of times, the role of a manager remains the same: to support your team members. That includes supporting their mental health. The good news is that many of the tools you need for this are the same ones that you, as an effective manager, probably already use. Below we discuss some tips for managers in dealing with employees struggling with their mental health.

Be Compassionate & Model Healthy Behaviors
Compassion is a universal skill for managers to learn. To practice compassion in a conversation, slow down, ask open-ended questions, listen deeply to understand, and witness their struggles without judgment. Sometimes, this may not feel like enough, but it’s often the most powerful gift you can give as a leader.

Don’t just say you support mental health. Model it so that your team members feel they can prioritize self-care and set boundaries. Often, managers are so focused on their team’s well-being and on getting the work done that they forget to take care of themselves. Share that you are taking a walk in the middle of the day, having a therapy appointment, or prioritizing a staycation so that you don’t burn out.

Communicate Openly
Ending the stigma around mental health is ongoing, though the pandemic brought it front and center, which allowed for deeper conversations universally. An important soft skill in leadership is to practice open communication and share vulnerability, as this will set the tone for your team.

By communicating openly, you are creating psychological safety, trust, and sustainability as leaders and employers. Acknowledge when you have been through a tough time and that your employees are not alone. Share with your employees the action you’re taking to prioritize and support their well-being in the workplace.

Practice Empathy
Empathy is essential for leading individuals, particularly those suffering from stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Leaders can show they care and are attentive without being experts in mental health. They might check in and ask questions beyond ‘How are you?’ They would want to listen to what an employee wants to share and then offer support, even asking questions about what supports would be helpful. They would pause and wait for full answers, showing that they are really listening. Be careful not to be too overbearing; that could signal a lack of trust or a desire to micromanage.

When people share that they’re struggling, you won’t always know what to say or do. What’s most important is that you are making the space to hear how your team members are truly doing. They may not want to share much detail, which is completely fine. Knowing that they can share is what matters.

Promote Psychological Safety
Encouraging employees to be open, validating their difficulties, and giving them resources to seek further support will give the message that you, as the employer, understand and support their struggles. By pointing your employees to resources and letting them know that their employer truly cares, with wellness being a top priority, employees will be better equipped for positive change.

Foster a Supportive Company Culture
Providing mental wellness training, comprehensive wellness programs, and health benefits such as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) creates a supportive and healing environment. Implementing initiatives based on data from anonymous surveys ensures that employees feel seen, heard, and valued.

If your business or organization is interested in learning more about Wholeness Healing EAP services, please contact me at 308-382-5297, Extension 127, or via email at eap@wholenesshealing.com.

Works Cited
American’s With Disabilities Act of 1990 retrieved via https://www.ada.gov/topics/intro-to-ada/.

Gepp, Karin. (March 30, 2022). Your guide to managing workplace anxiety. Healthline.com. Retrieved via https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/workplace-anxiety.

Smith, Kathleen. (February 24, 2020). Work anxiety: 10 tips to manage anxiety at work. Retrieved via https://www.psycom.net/10-ways-manage-anxiety-work.




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