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Lead change

As a manager, you can make a big difference to the mental health of your workers. There are lots of ways you can show your workers mental health is important and together create a mentally healthier workplace that’s more flexible, supportive and productive.

When managers show leadership and invest in workplace mental health, workers feel more safe, valued and connected and this benefits your business.

Here’s how.

Leadership tips for small business          

Here are leadership tips for small business owners to improve mental health in the workplace:

  • Share with your team why you are committed to creating a mentally healthy workplace.
  • Walk the talk of taking care of yourself: when leaders model positive behaviours, like staying active and healthy, getting enough sleep, talking about mental health and making it OK to ask for support, workers are encouraged to look after themselves too.
  • Be informed: enhance your knowledge about mental health and learn about the dangers of factors that could signify unhealthy work practices and how to take actions to improve wellbeing in your workplace.
  • Create positive and inclusive workplace culture; where your team feel valued, safe and that it is ok to ask for support.
  • Support workers when they need it: if you suspect someone is not coping, it's important to tell them they're not alone. Be supportive with reassuring conversation, be genuine, and link them to resources where they can find further support. Here are tips on how to support someone from time to change or visit where to access support for more information.
  • Stay in touch: maintain regular contact with any worker that needs to take time off due to mental ill-health or illness and check-in regularly, so they still feel part of the team. Keep them involved in the recover at work process and ask them how they feel instead of assuming what their wants or needs may be. Find out more about how you can support your workers to recover at work.

If you work alone, it is important to find ways to connect with others. Watch this video from Heads Up to see how other small business owners stay connected and why this is important to them.

Video is courtesy of beyondblue©, duration: 3:29

More resources for small business:

  • Business in Mind is a workplace mental health promotion program for managers of small and medium businesses.
  • Heads Up also have great resources for managing workplace mental health in small business.

Leadership tips for medium and large workplaces

Here are tips on how to create supportive and committed leadership, which endorses and prioritises initiatives to support a mentally healthy workplace:

  • Provide mental health and wellbeing training to managers and workers across the organisation to increase knowledge, confidence and skills to support mental health at work.
  • Offer rewards and recognition to make sure achievements are acknowledged.
  • Foster competency and career development by encouraging your workers to acquire new skills and identify career opportunities.
  • Support workers through workplace uncertainty by learning from and building on previous change management successes.
  • Design safe work practices that support mental health.
  • Take practical action to create a positive and inclusive workplace culture.
  • Most importantly, as a manager you should lead by example and look after your own mental health and wellbeing by maintaining work-life balance, talking openly about mental health, and accessing and promoting support.

There’s more on this in SuperFriend’s promoting positive mental health in the workplace guidelines and their indicators of a thriving workplace report.

Video is courtesy of beyondblue©, duration 1:58

Watch this video from Heads Up finds out why managers around Australia believe leadership is key to creating a mentally healthy workplace.

Find out more about our commitment to supporting manager training, collaboration and mentoring to improve workplace mental health.

More leadership resources:

Discover more ways you can promote mental health in your workplace.