Mental health support procedure

In order to be a humane employer, you need a basic procedure in place for how to help employees struggling with poor mental health.

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(We'll email you a Google Docs version of the procedure, and sign you up to the Spill newsletter too — but you can unsubscribe if that's not your thing.)

There are two components to an effective employee mental health support procedure: making sure the company is prepared to know what to do, and making sure it's equipped to provide adequate support.

Make sure the company is prepared for instances of poor employee mental health

Being prepared when it comes to employee mental health isn't about unnecessary bureaucracy or tick-box exercises. It's about making sure that your company is ready to react in a quick, effective and humane way should an employee experience any kind of mental health problem — and so you can save time worrying and deciding how the company should react, and get straight to helping them instead.

In general, to be properly equipped to handle the most common work-affecting employee mental health instances, you need the following structures in place.

A procedure for an employee experiencing work-affecting poor mental wellbeing or a work-affecting mental health illness

This procedure contains six key steps:

  1. Notify the relevant people
  2. Put in time to have a conversation with the person
  3. Agree on one or more of the options
  4. Schedule a series of check-ins
  5. Discuss reasonable adjustments if necessary
  6. Help them make a mitigation plan

We've made a full template version of this procedure below.

Get a copy of this Mental Health Support Procedure as a
Google doc here that you can duplicate and edit

Information and services companies need to provide to be able to help employees with poor mental health

Finally, there's a moral responsibility for companies to provide the tangible resources required to support people. We'll divide these resources into information and services.

Mental health information

Employees need to know how they might be able to help themselves when they're experiencing mild poor mental wellbeing. Here are some free sources of information we'd recommend sharing with your teams.

  • 3-minute mood boosters (by Clearer Thinking). These exercises have all been proven by empirical studies to significantly raise positive feelings whilst reducing negative ones.
  • Personalised recommendations for better sleep (by Clearer Thinking). Answer a few questions about your current sleep habits and get some recommendations back on how to improve them.
  • Audio exercises for anxious thoughts (Insight Timer). This free meditation and mindfulness app has various audio exercises to help people work through anxious thought patterns and improve sleep quality.

Mental health services

When it comes to immediate support, there are a variety of amazing free phone and chat services open to the public that employees can make use of in a moment of crisis. There are both general and specialised crisis lines where employees can talk to someone confidentially.

Free crisis phone lines:

  • The Samaritans (for any mental health crisis situation): ☎️ 116 123 (24/7)
  • Refuge (for domestic violence): ☎️ 0808 2000 247 (24/7)
  • Rape Crisis (for any kind of sexual violence): ☎️ 0808 802 999 (12noon-2pm and 7pm-9.30pm every day)
  • Beat (for anything relating to eating disorders): ☎️ 0345 634 1414 (9am-8pm during the week, and 4pm-8pm on weekends)
  • Bereavement Advice Centre (for grief): ☎️ 0800 634 9494 (9am-5pm, Mon-Fri)
  • Self Injury Support (for self-harm and thoughts of self-harm): ☎️ 0808 800 8088 (7pm-10pm, Mon-Fri)

It's best to put these crisis lines somewhere your employees can easily find them, like in an internal wiki, employee handbook or Slack channel.

When it comes to providing support for employees who are struggling, but aren't in imminent danger to themselves or others (which accounts for the majority of cases of poor mental health), this is where therapy is needed. It been proven time and time again to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and is far more effective than app-based solutions without human-to-human interaction (like mindfulness or meditation apps).

The NHS is amazing, but it isn't built to cope with the majority of the UK population who struggle with their mental wellbeing: as a result, waiting lists to see a psychiatrist or get talk therapy are often six months or more, especially in big cities.

(Employee Assistance Programmes) can be an attractive option due to their low cost. However, there's a reason for that low cost: they're essentially designed to never be used, with counselling and therapy requiring a series of steps to access. Filling out a form, requesting a callback, having a phone consultation, answering some questions, then maybe or maybe not actually getting the sessions depending on whether you qualify. It's a lot to ask when someone is already not feeling great.

There are some other options for proper support, but in our opinion none of them tick all the boxes. That's ultimately why we started Spill: because there was a desperate need for comprehensive, easy, effective mental health support for companies.

Questions to ask yourself when looking for a mental health support solution:

  • How easy it is for employees to find and access?
  • How many people actually use it?
  • Does it exclude anyone based on previous or current mental health conditions?
  • Is it proven to help people feel better?


Get our editable Mental Health Support Procedure

(We'll email you a Google Docs version of the procedure, and sign you up to the Spill newsletter too — but you can unsubscribe if that's not your thing.)

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