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Possible Solutions

Possible Solutions for Employees

What Possible Solutions Can I Offer My Staff?

Good news - there is quite a bit of help to enable you to support your staff who are dealing with mental health issues.

First of all you need to decide what sort of support you are looking for.

Is it help from external organisations you need such as training for staff, consultancy or one on one support? Or are there internal solutions from within your own organisation? Or both?

Check out the suggestions on the following links:

What solutions can your organisation offer?

There are lots of possibilities here. Check with your HR team what your company policies are in the following areas.

Flexible working hours

Could you allow extra time for core tasks and time off for any appointments? Or change working hours to be in line with a persons medication, for example, medication can make someone groggy first thing in the morning, so perhaps they could work from 10 - 6PM instead of 9 - 5, or work from home for certain hours of the day.

Internal training

Can you provide advice on how to manage time and stress?


Providing a quiet, private and secure place for a person to take any medication or to be alone if they need to can be very helpful.

Specialist equipment

Some medication may affect a persons memory, therefore providing dictaphones would be very helpful for example.

Reallocating workload

Look at spreading non core tasks throughout the team to allow the person to work flexible hours or take time off for appointments without feeling under pressure of falling behind with work.

Of course you also need to manage the wellbeing of the rest of the team as well as the employee concerned.

To assess the impact of employee absence or workplace change on the team, ask yourself the following quick questions to ensure you are managing the team effectively.


What support is out there for me and my employee?

Sometimes you will find that you need to get outside support, so check out the following possibilities:

Ensuring training is provided for staff around mental health will help to promote a culture of tolerance and understanding.

Bringing in support and training to ensure your team is healthy at work will also help.

Access to Work (link opens in new window) - This government-run scheme supplies advice, information and pays some grants towards costs of employing a disabled person. (Some people with mental health issues may be seen as disabled in law.) In certain circumstances Access to Work may help pay for a support worker to help with an employee's support needs.

Work Choice (link opens in new window) is a voluntary, Government supported employment programme designed specifically for people who, due to their disability, may find it difficult to find or stay in work.

These two programmes are run by Jobcentre Plus (link opens in new window). The Disability Employment Advisers or DEA can supply specialist support on employment issues.

For support with specific conditions and more general mental health advice for you and your employee contact the organisations listed under Conditions and Additional Support.

What is a buddy programme?

A buddy is usually another member of staff who volunteers to support a colleague.

You can also bring in a buddy from outside organisations such as Shaw Trust. The Government's Access to Work (opens in new tab or window) scheme may be able to fund the costs.

Buddy systems can be useful in lots of different situations especially with helping employees return to work after long periods of absence.

Of course the buddy should be agreed with the person being supported who should be involved in discussions from the start.

The role of the buddy is to:


A buddy can be used as a sounding board. By actively listening a buddy can raise questions and feelings of concern.


Encourage self-direction helping build confidence and self- esteem by focussing on the strengths of the employee. The buddy should encourage talking to other staff members.

Be a role model

The buddy should be a role model and represent the values of the organisation.


The buddy should guide an employee based on their experience and knowledge and provide relevant and helpful information.

The buddy role is not to be confused with that of a manager, mentor or coach.

For more information on the role and responsibilities of a buddy, plus how to set up your very own buddy programme download our buddy programmes - (pdf download - 422KB) guide.

Shaw Trust also offers a mental health helpline for employers to talk through any concerns or issues in more detail. For information on this service email us at mentalhealth@shaw-trust.org.uk

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You may need to download Microsoft viewer software to view Word, Excel or Powerpoint files.

Should I seek medical advice?

Sometimes - but it's not always necessary or helpful.

The first person you should speak to is the person concerned. They may not have any other issues or needs, they may simply be disclosing their condition to you, as their line manager, so you are aware of it.

If you have followed the rules outlined in it's good to talk you will have asked them if they need any "reasonable adjustments" to be made.

Then you may wish to seek the advice of someone who knows more than you do about mental health issues. You may wish to speak to the employee's GP, or to your occupational health adviser, if you do, you need to keep the employee informed about what is going on.

For more guidance see our detailed seeking medical advice (PDF opens in new window - 47KB) guide.

Shaw Trust also offers a mental health helpline for employers to talk through any concerns or issues in more detail. For information on this service email us at mentalhealth@shaw-trust.org.uk

You may need to download Adobe Reader (link opens in new window) to view files in PDF format.

You may need to download Microsoft viewer software (link opens in new window) to view Word, Excel or Powerpoint files.

How do I support an employee who is returning to work after a period of absence?

This requires careful planning which of course should take place before the date of return. It's worth remembering that from a business point of view returning to work or "rehabilitation back to work" will usually be less expensive than early retirement or recruiting and training a new employee.

Top tips:

  • Get the staff member to call in to the workplace for an informal coffee to meet colleagues again before starting back, as it's often difficult for people to come 'over the threshold' again
  • Organise a phased return to work
  • Reduce working hours either temporarily or on a permanent basis
  • Allow more work flexibility (hours and locations)
  • Ensure there is additional supervision
  • Allow time off for appointments
  • Be positive about accessing therapeutic or medical support
  • Discuss signs and symptoms of any relapse with the employee and how they feel it is best dealt with.
  • Identify sources of stress which need to be looked at via audit, prevention and management.
  • Update the employee on any new workplace issues and discussing what "reasonable adjustments" to their work or workplace can be made under the Equalities Act.

It may also be worth having another look at the key points outlined in It's good to talk.

Shaw Trust also offers a mental health helpline for employers to talk through any concerns or issues in more detail. For information on this service email us at mentalhealthline@shaw-trust.org.uk