Supervisors can help foster an environment where employee stress and emotional upsets are identified early. Training in mental health first aid allows supervisors the additional knowledge to identify common signs and symptoms of stress, mental health struggles, and substance use in employees and learn the skills to confidently intervene and connect the employee with available resources(2). Such expectations of supervisors also help to ensure that employees experiencing emotional struggles don’t “fall through the cracks,” resulting in absenteeism and lost productivity. For example, in one-on-one meetings, supervisors can conduct “well-being check-ins” with direct reports to inquire about changes in staff behaviors (i.e., irritability, confusion, signs of increased substance use), physical health (i.e., headaches, eating habits, physical appearance), or performance (i.e., disorganization, impaired concentration and decision-making)(3) to open the door to deeper conversations.
Supervisors can also play a role in normalizing conversations about emotional wellness. For example, supervisors might facilitate a brief discussion during team meetings about current challenges and successes in the workplace to begin to demonstrate that such conversations are valued and welcomed by the organization; this may translate to a greater openness of employees to discuss personal challenges. Supervisors can also support a culture of emotional wellness by prioritizing their own mental health and self-care(4). Supervisors can encourage employees to seek emotional health support by being vulnerable and sharing their own stress and emotional struggles. Supervisors can also model self-care in the workplace by demonstrating that they take care of their own emotional well-being such as through planned breaks throughout the day.
Supervisors are in the position to identify changes in employee emotional health and to contribute to an organizational culture where well-being is prioritized. We recommend that leadership identify professional development opportunities, such as through Mental Health First Aid, to equip supervisors to be more effective sources of emotional support for their team. For further support and guidance do not hesitate to contact Tana Luger Motyka at email@example.com
Mental Health America, Inc. (2021). Mind the workplace. Report accessed from: https://www.mhanational.org/research-reports/2021-mind-workplace-report
National Council for Mental Wellbeing. (2021). Mental Health First Aid. Accessed from: https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/.
Advisory Board (2020). How to check in with a staff member about their well-being. Accessed from: https://www.advisory.com/Topics/Physician-Leadership/2021/03/How-to-check-in-with-a-colleague
Greenwood, K. & Krol, N. (2020). 8 ways managers can support employees’ mental health. Harvard Business Review. Accessed from: https://hbr.org/2020/08/8-ways-managers-can-support-employees-mental-health%20trust.