Supporting employees experiencing anxiety

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Health Assured team

19 October 2018

Research conducted by the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), shows that rates of moderate to extreme anxiety among employees has soared by 30.5% since 2013.

The term anxiety can incorporate a number of conditions such as generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and panic disorders, which might help explain why anxiety is one of the most prominent mental health issues in the present day.


With this in mind, it is important that employers learn how to address and support employees who are experiencing anxiety. This will involve developing a strategy which focusses on the long-term aspects of managing mental health in the workplace and effectively promoting wellbeing throughout the organisation.


Creating an open culture

Levels of anxiety can fluctuate over a period of time and for that reason, are less visible than physical ailments. Just because on the surface an individual may appear to be okay, underneath there can often be a great deal of turmoil.


Whilst there have been positive developments in the discussion of mental health in the workplace, there is still a long way to go before people truly feel comfortable in having open communication about their mental health concerns.


For this reason, it is important that managers adopt a proactive approach in building an open and honest culture surrounding health and wellbeing. This can be something as small as checking in with your employees to see how they are. Showing employees that you are available and open to discussing any issues they are facing can sometimes be half the battle.


Both management and employees will benefit from educating themselves in the issues surrounding anxiety, including how to spot the potential signs and how to approach someone who is experiencing anxiety.


Booking mental health awareness workshops for your employees can help developed their knowledge and insight into how to identify, understand and help individuals who may be developing mental health issues, such as anxiety.


Making adjustments and offering additional support

Stress affects people in different ways, and for people experiencing anxiety it may mean that they are more susceptible to becoming stressed. For managers, it can be difficult balancing the challenges of supporting a team and maintaining an awareness of the wellbeing of your employees. Not to mention that mental health is a sensitive subject and knowing how to deal with it effectively can be stressful in itself.


Making small adjustments within the workplace can also help employees experiencing anxiety. For example, you could consider splitting up their lunch breaks, to give them the opportunity to take time out when they are feeling pressurised. Additionally, people with anxiety may find it difficult to prioritise and manage their workloads, in which case, managers should step in and provide extra support. This could be achieved through regular one-to-one meetings to assess how they are coping with their levels of work.


Finally, employers may consider offering flexible working, which may include the option to occasionally work from home. Being flexible will also become beneficial when allowing employees to take time off work at short notice for doctors or counselling appointments.


Regardless of the approach you take, it is important to ensure that any measures you put in place are constantly reviewed to determine whether they are working or whether they need adjusting.


Remember, people experiencing anxiety or any other mental health difficulty are more than capable of being valuable contributors in the workplace. By building an open culture surrounding mental health you are not only facilitating a more inclusive working environment, but also working towards retaining valuable employees to grow your organisation.



If you would like to find out more information on any of the topics mentioned in this article, please contact Health Assured on:

0844 892 2493

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