Supporting an Employee Struggling with Mental Health

April 8, 2022

Pro-EAP Team

In England in any given week one in six people report experiencing a common mental health problem such as anxiety or depression. With these high numbers, it is likely that you’ll come across a member of staff struggling with their mental health.

Supporting an employee with a mental health issue is a situation that many employers might need to face. Recent statistics show that 56% of employers said they would like to do more to improve staff wellbeing but feel as though they don’t have the right training or guidance.

Supporting an employee can feel quite daunting as you may worry about doing something wrong. Approaching them on a kind, non-judgemental and empathic way, will let you help them best.

Mental Health in the Workplace Statistics: How many employees struggle with mental health in the UK?


  • In 2020 and 2021 there were an estimated 822,000 workers affected by work-related stress, depression, or anxiety. This is equivalent to 2,480 per 100,000 workers. Compared to 602,000 in 2018/2019. (1)
  • Research by Mind showed that more than one in five employees (21%) said that they had called in sick to avoid work. (2)
  • 54% of workplaces increased employee wellbeing support or benefits (such as employee assistance programmes) during 2021 (3)

Supporting an employee struggling with mental health issues


Learning how to recognise that an employee is struggling with mental health is necessary in order to help them feel better. Recognising someone needs support early is key to prevent their suffering from escalating further.

There are a few things that you can do.

  • Stay positive – it’s really hard to see how someone struggles with mental health and how this affects their work performance. Even though you might feel helpless sometimes, it is important you remain positive on their healing.
  • Practise active listening and open communication – to help them you’ll need to listen to what their main struggles are and then workout different adjustments to make them feel more comfortable.
  • Be open to suggestions – make sure the employee knows that you’re open to their questions or suggestions.
  • Look for changes in their behaviour – struggling with deadlines, avoiding workplace activities, becoming overwhelmed easily, arriving late to work or meetings, loss of confidence, stop turning the camera on during video calls, etc.
  • Allow flexible working – hybrid working is practically necessary for most people after the pandemic, allowing this to someone that is struggling might help them with their recovery. If possible, also allow flexible working hours.

Attitudes to implement in the workplace

  1. Educate staff on mental health. Encourage employees and especially managers to take part in wellbeing workshops.
  2. Invest in mental health. An Employee Assistance Programme or support service.
  3. Keep researching ways to be supportive. A recommendation – the booklet by Mind “How to support staff who are experiencing a mental health problem”


To support your employees’ mental health through staff counselling or employee assistance programmes.

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