Caught up in the hectic day-to-day, mental health in the workplace can still be pushed to the side but telling someone to simply buck up or pull themselves together, even as joke, is not only patronising, it will do more damage.
Still, it’s important to not fall into the trap of thinking that managers can solve everything, they are not counsellors or psychologists. Organisations need to help managers recognise when it’s time to suggest someone more qualified. But simply taking the time to reach out and ask someone if they need to chat can go a long way.
It’s also up to managers to help create an environment of transparency and open communication, where employees are comfortable opening up, feeling no shame or guilt for discussing and dealing with personal issues or fearing potential consequences. There is no point just introducing a bunch of HR initiatives, these attitudes of openness and acceptance need to be lived, ingrained in the company culture and driven by employees. Empathy must be recognised as a strength and employees need to be viewed holistically as a person, not just a productivity tool – there’s a reason human is the first word in HR.