Looking after yourself - Supporting mental health at work

Looking after yourself

It's important to look after your mental health at work and ask for help when needed.

To help support your mental health and wellbeing, you can:

  • stay in contact with people – talk to people you work with or friends about how you're feeling
  • have a routine so you plan in advance what you'll be doing each day
  • keep active and exercise
  • make time for activities you enjoy
  • reflect on what helps you feel more positive and what does not

Talking to your manager

If you have a mental health problem, it's up to you whether you disclose it to your manager and at what stage.

It can be a good idea to talk to your manager as early as possible about your situation and how you're doing. They might be able to help support you quickly and throughout your mental health problem.

For example, they might be able to support you with extra breaks to manage your workload. This might help prevent you needing to take time off on sick leave.

You and your manager might want to discuss changing your working pattern to suit your situation. For example, you might agree to change your start and finish time.

You can also let your manager know what kind of contact you'd like. For example, talking over the phone, having face to face meetings rather than video calls.

If your manager is concerned about your mental health they might arrange a conversation with you to see if you need any support. It's up to you how much information you share with them.

Find out more about examples of reasonable adjustments for mental health to see what support could be given.

Support available through work

You can check with your employer what support is available if you have concerns about your mental health.

Employers have a 'duty of care'. This means they must do all they reasonably can to support your health, safety and wellbeing.

For example, some organisations offer counselling. If they do, it'll usually be through a scheme known as an employee assistance programme (EAP).

Your organisation might also:

  • have a mental health 'champion' – someone at work who leads on changing attitudes to mental health
  • have a health and safety officer or trade union representative
  • offer support in other ways, such as a mental health support group, or mental health network with other organisations
  • offer mental health training on how to look after your mental health at work

If you're off sick because of your mental health

If you're off sick because of a mental health problem, you should agree with your manager:

  • how you will stay in touch
  • how often the contact will be
  • how you will contact each other, for example by email, phone or face-to-face meetings

Continuing to have contact with your employer is important. It can help:

  • you stay informed
  • keep your employer informed so they can plan ahead
  • your employer provide you with the support you need

You should keep in contact as agreed. But if you feel you cannot follow the plan for any reason you should tell your employer as soon as possible. You should then agree to an alternative contact plan together.

For example, if you had agreed to talk face to face but you're finding it overwhelming, a phone conversation could be an alternative option.

When you're ready to return to work, you should talk with your manager about the process for when someone returns to work.

Find out more about:

Reasonable adjustments for mental health

Reasonable adjustments are changes an employer makes to remove or reduce a disadvantage related to someone's disability.

If you need a reasonable adjustment for mental health you should talk with your manager or employer. You should work together to agree any reasonable adjustments.

Find out more about reasonable adjustments for mental health

If you're unhappy with how your mental health problem has been handled

If you are unhappy with how your mental health problem has been handled at work, you can raise this with your employer. It's usually best to raise the problem informally first by talking to your employer.

If you cannot reach a solution to the problem, you can raise a grievance. This is where you make a formal complaint to your employer.

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