Managing mental health – what if I make things worse?

Management mental health training

Do you have a fear of making a situation worse when it comes to managing mental health? You are not alone! The fear of making things worse and getting wrong is one we hear regularly from managers on our managing mental health training programmes.

You might be worried if you have someone in front of you, online or face to face who is crying for example, you’re potentially going to make matters worse during the conversation.

Think of all the situations you manage every day and the conversations you engage in from conversations about change, restructuring, pay and benefits, budgets, client accounts, and internal conflict. What’s the difference when it comes to mental health?

You tell us that when it comes to mental health it’s as if a switch in the brain gets flicked and fear sets in.

As mental health therapists with real hands-on experience working with people, one of the things we assure managers like you is there’s not a lot you can say or do that will make matters worse during a conversation. Especially if you have a connection with that person.

If one of your team is struggling with their mental health and experiencing burnout, overwhelm or anxiety for example. Or have been given a health diagnosis or suffered a bereavement, a lone comment from you that may not be from the ‘handbook of managing mental health’ is highly unlikely to make matters worse.

However, there’s a lot you can do which will have a positive impact on your team member. And that is as simple as listening.

Listening is a very powerful but often underlooked resource that you and I have at our disposal. On our managing mental health programmes we often have managers ask for tools to manage mental health with their teams and we are quick to direct them to the inner resources they (and you!) already have – the ability to listen and the ability to empathise.

In today’s world where we are more likely to be asked ‘Are you busy’ rather than ‘Are you OK’ people are crying out to be listened to.

This is one of the reasons we highlight to managers if you get the listening part right, you’re already doing an amazing job!

And also the reason why we make a point of covering listening skills in our mental health training. Because while we might like to think we are good listeners, there is a skill to listening deeply.

Managers consistently provide feedback about how much they love the listening skills exercises we run because they recognise how much scope they have to develop their listening skills. Managers have even reported how the listening exercises have made them better account managers, parents and partners!

What will make things worse is not having the conversation.

Mental health is for everyone. Get in touch to find out how we can take the fear out of managing mental health.

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