Top Tips for Starting a Mental Health Conversation
A private place where the person feels comfortable & equal.
People find mental health conversations difficult. Therefore, creating an ongoing open culture will help normalise discussions. Try making mental health conversations routine.
Ask simple, open & non-judgmental questions. People can therefore explain their current situation in their way.
Everyone’s experience of mental health is different, so we must treat people as individuals. Listen to what your staff member says and consider what changes would support their individual requirements.
Don’t assume symptoms an employee might have or the impact of these on their job. Let them expand on this so you can implement any additional support specific to them.
If there are concerns about this employee. For example, high absence levels or impaired performance. It’s important to address these straight away.
You must reassure employees of confidentiality. This is highly sensitive information and should only be shared when absolutely necessary. You can discuss with the individual what information you may need to share and with whom.
Not everyone will be ready to talk straight away. Instead, outline their available support, tell them your door is always open, and let them know you will support them.
Ensure a solid action plan with the individual. This should identify their signs, triggers, impact on work, who to contact in a crisis, and support requirements. Read our stress management guidance for further advice.
- Encourage further support
The role of a mental health first aider is to support staff. Offering an outlet to talk as well as signposting them to relevant agencies. Often their GP, or a charitable organisation such as Samaritans or Mind, are great starting places.