Strategies for positive mental health in the workplace - resources and recording

12 Dec 2022 Sandra Bailie    Last updated: 18 Dec 2022

This resource is a summary of the strategies and advice shared on the Strategies for positive mental health webinar on 8 December 2022 and includes a recording of the webinar. The panel had representatives from Inspire, ASCERT, AWARE and CRUSE NI.

Positive mental health in the workplace is vitally important for any organisation and this resource outlines actions you can take to embed a culture of positive mental health in your organisation.

The advice is taken from the webinar on 8 December 2022 that had four panel members sharing their expertise and knowledge: Colin Robinson from ASCERT, Nigel Fyffe from AWARE, Paul Sampson from CRUSE NI and Sarah Barrow from Inspire.

Embedding a culture of positive mental health - preventative measures

  • Approach building positive mental health culture for the “right” reasons.
  • Needs to be whole organisational approach – preventative, early intervention and recovery phases.
  • Health and Safety Executive have some useful resources to use. 
  • Top down – senior management and board need to lead on this and set an example.
  • Clear pathways of support within organisation that are well communicated
  • Have an employment assistance programme (EAP) if possible.
  • Clear roles and responsibilities
  • Clear policies and procedures that help to foster a culture of support
  • Training and wellbeing initiatives for staff and volunteers
  • Bereavement - How does your organisation cope with family member of staff dying, also members of staff dying or a public figure dying – what does your organisation have in place to deal with this? Also, longer term impact, or delayed grief.
  • Substance use – have conversations with staff, train staff how to do this, how managers can help staff.
  • Ensure staff know where support is in the workplace and open discussions where staff are listened to.
  • Mental health first aiders and champions in the workplace – important that they also have support.
  • Ask “How can I help?” – sometimes we think we know how to help, but that is not the best for the person concerned.

Dealing with mental health challenges and early intervention.

  • Effective conversations about issues and address the elephant in the room, using open-ended questioning techniques. Be conscious about the language you use.
  • Helping them to be motivated to make the changes they need
  • Know which organisations and support to signpost to
  • Build awareness of mental health including drug and alcohol use – provide awareness raising for staff/volunteers. Think about the impact on users e.g., if staff have been taking drugs or alcohol.
  • See the person – get a good understanding of where the person is at. What is going on in their world? Eg how are they sleeping? What pressures are they facing? How have things changed for them after Covid and returning to work? Help with adjustments they need to make.
  • Think about the person, where is best to have the conversation? – out for a walk, over a coffee, private space.
  • Agree a plan to take things forward
  • Promote self-help – there are lots of things we can do on a day-to-day basis to improve our mental health - promote 5 Steps to wellbeing.
  • What areas are impacting on person’s mental health? – drugs/alcohol, financial pressures, bereavement, relationship problems etc – signpost and get external support.
  • When a loved one dies, when member of staff is off on long-term sick – how is that communicated to others?
  • Ask staff what they want – don’t make any assumptions. Respect and dignity for staff.
  • Managers can feel under pressure – there is a dual responsibility, duty of care of manager/organisation and also responsibility on person themselves. Managers should not feel guilty or stressed about it.

Longer term adjustments that you can make.

  • People should be empowered to help themselves
  • Everyone will deal with things in different ways – we need to be flexible.
  • Managers need to look after themselves as well – look after your own mental health. Who is supporting you?
  • Recovery in mental health can be different than in physical health. They are learning to live with it.
  • Need clear policies for mental health return to work – get further advice from HSE and LRA
  • Mental health first aid trained people to help with recovery and can intervene straight away
  • Including it in regular supervision sessions
  • It is normal to have anxiety on first day back after being off work. Have a script for what to say on first day back – gives control and empowers staff member. “ I’m not ready to talk about that yet, but I’m glad to be back in work”.
  • There are organisations that can help in longer term for recovery and it is important to link staff with this expert support.

Further information

Advocacy for All - Inspire Wellbeing

Community Wellbeing NI | self-help guides and ways to access help to support your mental health and wellbeing.

Health and Safety Executive 

Webinar recording's picture
by Sandra Bailie

Head of Organisational Development

[email protected]