How to Support an Employee During a Mental Health Crisis

Supporting an employee with mental health issues

82% of workers with a diagnosed mental illness do not inform their workplace managers about their condition. What’s more, nearly half of all respondents said that they have considered resigning from a job because it impacted their mental health.


It seemingly came out of nowhere. 

An employee who was, in the past, hardworking, focused and diligent reaches a point where they are unable to complete daily tasks and are now putting themselves and others in a dangerous position. 

The signs are all pointing to a mental health crisis. 

Your first reaction to witnessing a mental health crisis by an employee in the workplace might be shock or fear, particularly if the signs leading up to it were subtle.

Now, you may be looking back on this event and asking yourself questions like:

How could I have missed the signs?

Was there more I could have done?

What was this person feeling at that moment?

A mental health crisis can mean different things for each person. According to The Mental Health Foundation, “it means a time when someone requires urgent help. They might be extremely anxious and have panic attacks. They could be self-harming or thinking of suicide. They may have felt this way before and know where to get help, or it could be the first time they’ve felt this way.”

As an employer, you have a duty of care to your employees, yet, certain events may go above and beyond the training of your management and leadership teams. When the circumstances present an immediate danger to a worker’s life, it is necessary to call emergency services for additional support.

But many mental health crises don’t need to escalate to this point. With Onebright’s mental health training for employers, you can empower individuals within your organisation to better understand mental health and be a champion for noticing signs and supporting every person’s mental health within the company. 

The likelihood of experiencing a mental health crisis for yourself or someone you work with will not be a few isolated events throughout our lives, either. The latest estimates show mental health problems affect one in six workers in the UK each year, costing the UK economy somewhere between £74 billion and £99 billion. 

The leading cause of stress in our lives?

Surprisingly, research from Mind shows that work pressure is the number one cause, rating even more stressful than financial problems. This tells us there is still a stigma around the conversations we’re having (or not having) about mental health, which may only become amplified in the workplace. 

People are too afraid to admit they’re struggling in case they get treated differently. There may be some concerns that they will get overlooked for a promotion, be replaced, or be labelled as ‘unable to cope’ if they openly acknowledge their personal and professional life pressures.

Director of Clinical and Business Operations & BABCP Accredited CBT Therapist, Shamira Graham, shares that specific causes can include; radical changes in a personal relationship, a loss or bereavement, or exposure to violence or trauma that can prompt a mental health crisis, even if the work environment doesn’t have any significant triggers. This is why preventing a mental health crisis in the workplace requires HR teams to work together with mental health specialists to formulate a plan that considers the needs of workers at all levels. 

Studies continue to show that when mental health training is built into the foundational culture of an organisation, employees are more productive, resilient, take less sick leave and are motivated to act as ambassadors for your business. 

It can happen at any time and to anyone. Creating a work environment that actively encourages employees to reach out in times of need is just one way we can help people live healthier, happier lives. 

Onebright clinicians can help you feel secure knowing they have given your team evidence-based, robust and clinically-led advice, empowering them to spot problems early and allocate resourcing for their staff before it turns into a crisis.


Get in touch with us to learn more about our unique corporate services for mental health. 

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