Nine ways leaders can check in with their teams' mental health

Working environment and conditions can have a significant impact on mental health, and, by the same token, a person's mental health can have a considerable effect on their ability to perform their job.

Here are a few statistics to put this in perspective:

  • 1 in 6.8 people suffer from work-related mental health problems1.
  • 1 in every 7.8 sick days is related to mental health2.

Therefore, doing all you can to not only reduce the stigma surrounding mental health but help team members through challenging periods should be your priority as a team leader.

Here's how you can do it:

#1 – One-on-One Time

People are more likely to be open and honest during a one-on-one meeting compared to when in a group-based setting, such as a team meeting; therefore, scheduling one-on-one meetings with each team member are the best way to have a transparent, frank, and sincere discussion. Furthermore, it makes your team feel like you care and they're not only valued on a work level but on a personal level too.

#2 – Use a Rating Scale

Not everyone is completely comfortable talking about their mental health and how they're feeling, or they may simply not be able to put their feelings into words. This can make discussions about mental health feel awkward and anxious – two feelings that have the potential to exacerbate any issues that exist (which is the opposite of what you are trying to achieve).

To get around this, begin proceedings with a number scale of 0 to 100 and ask your team to rate how they're feeling based on this spectrum. You can break this down into different subsections such as how 'stressed' they're feeling, how 'anxious' they're feeling, how 'satisfied' they're feeling, and so on and so forth.

#3 – Start a Conversation

If you think a team member might be struggling, don't be afraid to start a conversation with them to discuss how they're feeling. Unfortunately, many people are happy to suffer in silence and are afraid of being a burden, so they will refrain from discussing their mental health for fear of an adverse reaction. However, if you initiate the conversation, it will eradicate these fears and help them to open up.

#4 – Utilise Online Polls

Over the last year, working remotely has become the norm, which has resulted in far fewer opportunities for face-to-face communication and discussion. Therefore, it's essential to use online technology to assess how your team are doing. While this won't replace face-to-face conversations, it can help you gauge how your team are feeling without too much intrusion.

#5 – Create a Mental Health Action Plan

As a team leader, it's crucial to spot the signs that someone might be struggling with their mental health; however, it's crucial that the rest of your team are aware of the tell-tale signs and are there to help each other. Creating a 'Mental Health Action' plan is a great way to do this as it will not only bring mental health to the fore but will also help to increase openness between team members, which will only have positive effects on morale and mental health in the long run.

#6 – Questionnaires

Like other forms of online technology, questionnaires are a superb way to find out how your team members are feeling. After all, people will often feel more comfortable filling in a questionnaire than they would be baring all in a face-to-face conversation (even if you get on really well and have a great relationship).

#7 – Down Time is Critical

Work shouldn't revolve solely around work. Instead, conversation, discussion, and activities non-work-related should be encouraged during scheduled downtime during working hours. Sometimes even half an hour of non-work work-related sessions can boost focus, improve productivity, and, most importantly, make team members feel happier.

#8 – Physical Health is Equally Important

"Healthy body, healthy mind" - an old adage, but one that is relevant to every single person on the planet. Encourage team members to not only look after themselves physically through exercise and eating healthily but also by encouraging periodic health checks/scans to ensure they're physically healthy.

#9 – Colour Coding

When time is short, use a colour-coded system to assess how people are feeling. Green = feeling great. Amber = feeling ok. Red = feeling stressed. Once a person has submitted their colour, you can schedule a meeting to discuss how they're feeling.

Do you need any further advice or help in implementing any of the above strategies? This is just a small part of the work we do at Essentialise Workplace Wellbeing, building wellbeing strategies and delivering evidence-based, engaging wellbeing workshops across the UK. Wondering how we can support you? Contact us for a chat on 01772 846198 or email