Elliot Rylands

Staff Product Designer

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Creating a Supportive Workplace: Embracing Mental Health Awareness for All

Jun 11, 2024

This week marks Men's Mental Health Awareness Week, a crucial time to reflect on how we can support our colleagues, regardless of their industry or role. As leaders and employees, it is our responsibility to create a work environment that fosters mental well-being and supports those who might be struggling. Let's start by addressing some sobering statistics and then delve into actionable strategies to create a supportive workplace for all.

The Stark Reality: Men's Mental Health Statistics

Men's mental health is a significant issue that often goes unnoticed. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 800,000 people die by suicide every year, with men accounting for a staggering 75% of these deaths. In the UK alone, men are three times more likely to die by suicide than women. These numbers highlight the urgent need for mental health awareness and support in all aspects of life, including the workplace.

Understanding Unique Situations

Each employee comes to work with a unique set of circumstances and personal challenges. Home life, financial pressures, personal relationships, and health issues all play a role in shaping an individual's mental state. As employers and colleagues, it is essential to recognise that these factors influence how someone feels and performs at work. Creating a comfortable and supportive work environment, whether on-site or remote, is vital to ensuring that employees feel valued and understood.

Types of Mental Health Conditions

Mental health is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. Conditions vary widely, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and more. Each condition requires a different approach and understanding. For some, being around people and engaging in social activities at work can be uplifting and beneficial. For others, remote work provides the space and solitude needed to manage their mental health effectively. Recognising these differences and accommodating them is crucial to fostering a supportive workplace.

Managing Expectations for Optimal Performance

Understanding and managing expectations based on an individual's mental health can significantly impact their performance and well-being. Here are some strategies to consider:

On-Site Work

  1. Flexible Schedules: Allow employees to have flexible working hours to accommodate therapy sessions, medical appointments, or simply to manage their energy levels.

  2. Quiet Spaces: Provide quiet areas where employees can retreat if they feel overwhelmed or need a break from the hustle and bustle of the office.

  3. Open Communication: Encourage open and honest conversations about mental health without fear of stigma or judgement. Leaders should lead by example and share their own experiences when appropriate.

Remote Work

  1. Regular Check-Ins: Schedule regular check-ins to ensure remote employees feel connected and supported. Use video calls to maintain a personal connection.

  2. Encourage Breaks: Promote the importance of taking regular breaks and setting boundaries to prevent burnout.

  3. Mental Health Resources: Provide access to online mental health resources, including counselling services and mental health apps.

Recognising Red Flags in Mental Health

Even when employees say they are fine, there might be underlying issues. Here are some red flags to watch out for:

  1. Changes in Behaviour: Noticeable changes in behaviour, such as increased irritability, withdrawal from social interactions, or a decline in work performance.

  2. Absenteeism: Frequent absences or arriving late/leaving early more often than usual.

  3. Physical Symptoms: Complaints of physical ailments, such as headaches or fatigue, which can be linked to mental health issues.

  4. Emotional Outbursts: Sudden emotional outbursts or disproportionate reactions to minor issues.

  5. Isolation: Avoiding team meetings, social gatherings, or disengaging from work-related conversations.

Tips for Creating a Supportive Work Environment

  1. Promote Mental Health Awareness: Regularly share information and resources about mental health to foster a culture of awareness and understanding.

  2. Provide Training: Offer training for managers and employees on how to recognise and support colleagues with mental health issues.

  3. Create a Safe Space: Ensure that employees feel safe to discuss their mental health without fear of repercussions.

  4. Offer Support Services: Provide access to mental health support services, such as Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) or counselling.

  5. Encourage Self-Care: Promote the importance of self-care and provide resources or time off for employees to take care of their mental health.


As we observe Men's Mental Health Awareness Week, let us commit to creating a work environment where mental health is prioritised, and every employee feels supported and valued. By understanding the unique situations of our colleagues, recognising the diversity of mental health conditions, managing expectations thoughtfully, and being vigilant about red flags, we can foster a workplace that promotes well-being and productivity.

Remember, our role as leaders and employees is not just to create excellent work but also to create an inclusive, supportive, and compassionate work culture. Let's make mental health a priority and ensure that our workplaces are places where everyone can thrive.

© 2024 Elliot Rylands

© 2024 Elliot Rylands