How to start mental health conversations with your employees

Fatmata Kamara explains how encouraging your staff to talk about their mental health is the first step to creating an open, supportive culture

How to start mental health conversations with your employees

With one in six people experiencing a common mental health problem in any given week, creating an open and supportive work culture has never been more important. Starting a conversation on mental health may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. 

From regularly checking in with your team to encouraging them to open up, you can support them in a few, simple steps:

Talk openly

It’s important to create a culture where you can openly discuss and manage mental wellbeing. A simple way to communicate this with your employees is to explain that mental health matters and encourage them that being open is important. You could organise a meeting and let them know that you’re here to listen and support them. This will help make your employees aware that your workplace is a welcoming and supportive space for everyone. Sharing your own stories could help empower your employees to share theirs.

Regularly check in with your team

One-to-one catch ups and meetings are great ways of openly talking about mental health. You can use this time to ask how your employees are feeling and if there’s anything they’d like to talk about. If there is something on their mind, encourage them to seek support or share any helpful initiatives you have. 

Be honest

Create a culture where conversations about mental health are regular and normalised. Talking more openly about mental health can help to break the stigma. Ask simple, non-judgmental questions and let your team explain in their own words how they feel and what support they need. It can be tough for anyone to open up about mental health, so be approachable and make your team aware that you’re here to help. 

Keep it confidential 

Opening up about any health concerns can be tough, especially as mental health worries be personal. Reassuring your team that anything they share is confidential can help break down barriers. It’s sensitive information and should be shared with as few people as possible. 

Be aware of your resources

If your organisation has any internal resources,  it’s great to share any that are available with your team. There’s also plenty of support online for mental health. So if you notice an employee is feeling anxious, worried or depressed, encourage them to seek help. 

Fatmata Kamara is a mental health adviser at Bupa UK