Mental health supports for managers

If you are in distress, please contact your Employee Assistance Program or Crisis Services Canada. If it is an emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to your local emergency department.

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Supporting yourself as a leader

As a leader, you will have any number of people depending on you for direction and emotional support. This is particularly important during times of change and with workload management along with burnout prevention remaining a top concern.

You may want to consider finding a sounding board to deal with management challenges you may be facing. With others relying on you, it is always good to have someone that you can talk to when things get stressful.

Supporting employees

Your employees may be feeling anxious or stressed due to working in a hybrid model, and it’s important for everyone in the organization to feel psychologically safe and healthy. The pandemic may also have triggered or worsened mental health issues among employees.

It may be harder to notice whether your employees are struggling if you are working in a hybrid model. You may have less contact with employees, which can hide or mask performance changes that could otherwise have been a symptom of a mental health issue.

If you observe a pattern of change in an employee’s performance or behavior, this may be a sign that they are experiencing a mental health issue. Download the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Road to Mental Readiness poster (PDF) for information on signs and indicators, and actions to take at each phase of the mental health continuum.

Remember to:

  • Check in regularly with each of your employees. Ask how they are doing and if they need any support from you.
  • Pay attention to signs and symptoms of mental health issues – despite your encouragement, employees may not feel comfortable asking for support for their mental health.
  • Encourage all employees to be mindful of their mental health.

In extreme cases, employees may experience mental health crises, such as substance overdoses, panic attacks or suicidal behavior. If you think one of these situations is underway, call 9-1-1 and your organization’s Employee Assistance Program for immediate crisis support. Inform your organization’s occupational health and safety coordinator, in addition to those responsible for disability management or human resources.

Disclosure of mental health issues

An employee does not have to provide you any details about their mental health situation. If the employee wants to discuss the performance issues but not their well-being, respect their wishes. If there are related performance issues that the employee does not want to discuss, you may want to contact the team in your organization that is responsible for labour relations for advice.

If an employee chooses to disclose to you that they are experiencing a mental health issue, you should contact your organization’s Employee Assistance Program for advice on how to approach or support your employee.

The support managers provide individual employees may also have an impact on the team (e.g., absence, change in working hours), you’ll need to support the team too. You should discuss with the employee what they want to share with the team and how they want this to take place. Depending on the circumstances, you may also wish to consult your organization’s human resources team for guidance on duty to accommodate, disability management and/or return-to-work.

Supporting teams

In times of change and/or crisis, your role as a supervisor, manager or executive is critical. Your team will be looking to you for guidance, support and leadership now more than ever.

Working in a hybrid model can pose challenges. Here are some things you can do to help your teams.

Connect - Your presence is important. Take advantage of the technology available to hold team huddles and maintain ongoing daily communication with your team members. When physically in the workplace, check in with employees and hold regular in‑person meetings as well.

Talk about it - As part of your morning huddles or other conversations, give each person the opportunity to express how they are feeling. Being heard and understood helps reduce the level of anxiety or stress we are experiencing. Be sure to let your team know of all the accommodations and help available to them.

Create structure - Increasing certainty and reliability may help ease anxiety in the face of change.

  • hold meetings on set days and set times, or daily if possible.
  • set clear expectations, roles and responsibilities, deadlines, etc.
  • discuss what is in each person’s control, how we work, how we take care of ourselves, etc.

Be flexible - Explore flexibilities while respecting collective agreements. Ensure your employees have access to the accommodations they need.

Share - Create space to discuss how employees are adapting to the hybrid model. To help maintain team cohesion, you may also want to exchange wellness tips or activity ideas amongst each other.

Increased demand on teams

You may also want to engage your staff in group discussions on how you can all support each other.

Some teams may be facing increased work demands, which may trigger or worsen mental health issues amongst employees. Pay attention to workloads, encourage self-care, find ways to relieve pressure and if needed, seek assistance.

Specialized Organizational Services (SOS) provides expert assistance in helping your employees manage their health and wellness during periods of high intensity work. SOS is a part of Health Canada, and their services are available on a cost-recovery basis.

For guidance on hybrid work, telework and other people management-related subjects, contact your organization’s human resources team.

Employees on leave

Maintaining appropriate contact with your employees while they are on leave can positively influence their mental health. This contact will help employees remain connected to the workplace and will provide you with the opportunity to support or assist them.

It is important to discuss with the employee how, and how often, they would like you to be in touch, and to ensure that the employee is aware of resources for information and support, such as guidance on protecting one’s mental health, the Employee Assistance Program, and the Disability Management Employee Wellness Resource.

Death in the workplace

The death of an employee and colleague is a potentially psychologically traumatic event. If this occurs, it is important to attend to your own needs and to the needs of your employees and coworkers. If you feel stressed or distressed, take steps to care for yourself, such as calling your organization’s Employee Assistance Program or leaning into your personal support network (friends, family etc.). Your department’s human resources division should be advised as soon as possible to inform them and to seek advice.

Additional resources

New resources relating to protecting your mental health are continually being developed, with links provided below (and will update regularly as new resources become available):

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