Supporting colleagues who are struggling

If you’re worried about a colleague or someone you line manage, help is available. Start by asking them about what’s going on.

If are feeling worried about a colleague’s mental health and wellbeing, it can be hard to know how to approach this. However, voicing your concerns in a sensitive and appropriate way lets them know you care, and gives them an avenue for support. 

If talking to them hasn’t helped and you’re still worried, you can share your concerns with their line manager in confidence.  

How managers can help 

When a worker is experiencing poor mental health, there are a number of approaches that could be considered, including:

  • time off work 
  • reduced hours 
  • flexible working practices 
  • changes to their role and/or workload
  • referral to appropriate support, such as counselling, occupational health or Access to Work 

Often, these approaches will be combined. They might be temporary or long-term measures. 

Resources and guidance

If someone has a relevant mental health condition, their needs for reasonable adjustments could be covered under the Equality Act 2010 (external site).

It’s important that the approach that you take needs to be agreed as part of an open and honest discussion between the worker and their line manager. HR staff and other managers might also need to be involved in these discussions. 

Once you’ve agreed an approach, it’s important to put in review milestones to see if the measures are helping, or if you need to put in more support.

"Currently I have been able to share my mental health issues with my supervisor due to her understanding, knowledge and support. But before I had this particular manager my mental health was worse due to the experience of poor understanding and bad management techniques."
- 2021 survey respondent

Getting advice

There are lots of sources of advice and toolkits to help you support a worker who is experiencing poor mental health. 


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