Leading by example | How to encourage you employees to talk about mental health

A few weeks ago, I was invited on Matthew Holman’s podcast to talk about mental health. I shared how learning self-love helped me through my mental health struggles. I included some very personal stories. Sharing my experience isn’t something new for me, and actually, I do it on a weekly basis at work. It feels amazing to be able to open up without fearing judgement, but I am aware that it’s not an easy space to create.

This experience reminded me of several conversations I have been having with HR Directors and Wellbeing Leads across various industries. During these conversations they would often explain how hard it is to create a culture of psychological safety within the workplace where people would feel comfortable enough to express their struggle.

What happens when an employee like me opens up?

In my personal experience the answer is three fold:

  • It makes me feel supported by people who matter because I spend time everyday with them;
  • It creates a strong sense of community between my colleagues and I;
  • I am giving my employer the opportunity to offer support when I really need it (e.g. mental health recovery days, meaningful conversations with my manager and CEO, and obviously helpful resources through the BetterSpace platform)

Psychological safety starts at the top

Psychological safety is being able to show and employ one’s self without fear of negative consequences of self-image, status or career. Its benefits include: Increased amount members learn from mistakes, boosting employee engagement and improvements in team innovation

There are many ways companies can create a safe space for employees to talk. But it seems like it can never really work unless the cultural shift comes right from the top: the senior leaders. 

If they have doubts, if they don’t buy in and if they don’t act as role models, then the quest of psychological safety will never be fully accomplished. 

Senior leaders need to act as role models in order to inspire other employees to do the same. Employees need to see their managers and directors act according to what the company preaches, in order to feel safe enough to do it themselves.

And how can leaders inspire employees to open up? By opening up themselves! 

It doesn’t have to be a big deal – we usually associate “opening up” with deep hurtful personal experiences. But it doesn’t have to be this way. A senior leader sharing how they take time for themselves every day is also inspiring for everyone else in the company. It gives people permission to take “me time” and find out what wellbeing activities work for them.


BetterSpace is the employee wellbeing platform putting control where it belongs: in the hands of the individual employee. Our groundbreaking solution has been developed with medical and domain expertise and is aligned to our Six Pillars of Wellbeing. BetterSpace empowers your workforce to understand and fulfill their mental health needs. 

This approach has achieved engagement rates of 94%, compared to the average usage rate of 2-18% for Employee Assistance Programmes and 10-40% for points solutions.

Want to know more? Schedule a product demonstration with us today.

Workplace wellbeing insights