Supporting Employee Mental Health: A People-Managers Guide

Article by Luminate Consultancy Ltd

Being a manager in today’s workplace comes with a lot of responsibilities. Amongst them is the crucial task of supporting employee wellbeing.

But despite many managers acknowledging these responsibilities, recent studies (produced by both Mind and ACAS) suggest that they often lack the confidence to practically approach mental health at work.

In response to this, workplace wellbeing experts, Luminate, have put together a guide for people managers, providing them with some clarity and confidence on how to go about supporting employee mental health:

Understanding Mental Health: A Foundation For Support

To effectively support employee mental health, it’s crucial to start with a clear understanding of what mental health is. Mental health encompasses a person’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being, influencing how they think, feel, and act. As a manager, it’s essential to be attentive to changes in your team members’ behaviours and recognize signs of poor mental health, such as mood swings, irritability, withdrawal, or changes in appearance and weight.

If you sense something may be off with a colleague, don’t hesitate to check in with them in an appropriate and empathetic manner. Remember, knowing your team well and being present for them can make all the difference.

Having Conversations With Confidence

Approaching conversations about mental health can be intimidating, mainly due to the stigma surrounding the topic. However, you are highly unlikely to say or do the wrong thing when you approach a mental health conversation to provide support. Keep the below points in mind when embarking on these discussions: 

  • Be an active listener and ask open-ended questions when necessary.
  • Be fully present, open-minded, and empathetic.
  • Avoid trying to fix their problems or giving advice; instead, offer support and understanding.
  • Let them know you’re available to chat whenever they need to talk.
Boundaries For Supporting Employee Mental Health

As a manager, it’s important to understand your role in supporting mental health while respecting professional boundaries. While you are not expected to be a mental health professional, you can:

  • Be a good listener and provide practical support, such as helping employees manage their workload.
  • Guide them towards helpful resources, such as Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) or Mental Health First Aiders.
  • Respect physical boundaries and ask for consent before initiating any physical contact i.e. a hug or reassuring squeeze of the arm.

Outside of working hours, it’s generally best to refrain from contact for wellbeing check-ins to maintain healthy boundaries and allow both you and your employees time to recharge.

Creating A Culture Of Positive Mental Health

Managers play a vital role in shaping the overall workplace culture, and a positive culture contributes not only to staff wellbeing, but productivity, engagement, and talent retention too. Studies have shown that managers’ impact on people’s mental health can be as significant as that of their spouses! To create a positive culture:

  • Foster psychological safety, where employees feel free to take risks, speak up, and be authentic without fear of negative consequences.
  • Lead by example, be open about your own mistakes, seek feedback, and acknowledge the contributions of others.
  • Avoid encouraging behaviours that may harm employee well-being, such as overworking or micro-managing.

  • Remember, your own well-being is essential too. Prioritize self-care to be better equipped to support your team effectively.

Supporting employee mental health is crucial for managers. By understanding the foundations of mental health, approaching conversations with empathy, and role-modelling clear boundaries, you can create a positive and supportive workplace culture.

A Little About Luminate

At Luminate, we offer in-depth training to equip managers with the skills and confidence to impactfully support mental health in their workplaces. Luminate are a mental health consultancy that work with businesses to create happier, healthier, and more productive workplaces. Working with staff at all levels, we deliver a wide range of training and support – from full scale wellbeing programmes to stress management workshops, and mental health awareness training for people-managers. If you want to know more or have further questions about employee mental health, feel free to get in touch with us at

Contact us:

+44(0)203 637 7417