Mental health at work

Protect your employees’ mental health

A person has handed you the “Thank you/Warning” card.

Receiving validation feels good, but it can be hard to know what to do about the elements checked
in the “Warning” section.

Here are some possible courses of action.

Did you know ?

When it comes to mental health, 75% of organizations are unsure about whether they are well equipped to offer support and intervene effectively[1]. And yet, 70% of Canadian employees are concerned about the psychological health and safety of their workplace[2].

[1] FINANCIÈRE SUNLIFE. Points saillants du Rapport 2013 du Conference Board of Canada – Gérer l’invalidité : employeurs, êtes-vous prêts?, 2013.
[2] COMMISSION DE LA SANTÉ MENTALE DU CANADA. La santé mentale en milieu de travail, [en ligne]. [https://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/Francais/ce-que-nous-faisons/sante-mentale-en-milieu-de-travail] (16 novembre 2022).

Positive Approaches to Use

Be open

  • Take the time to welcome any emotion provoked by the information that you’ve just received.
  • Once you’ve taken a step back and feel that you are able to understand the employee’s concerns or personal issues, schedule a meeting with them in a setting that is appropriate for this kind of conversation.
  • From the outset, establish an atmosphere of trust with the other person.
  • Welcome them warmly and show respect by using non-threatening body language and verbal communication.
  • Clearly state that the meeting will remain confidential and reiterate your desire to help.

What to do if the person cries?

  • Remain calm.
  • Don’t assume that their crying is an indication of your ability to support them. It’s possible that they feel overwhelmed or unsafe. They could, for example, be worried about future disciplinary measures due to a lack of performance on their part.
  • Stay with them and be patient while they calm down.
  • Reassure them that their reaction is normal. You’re there to listen, not judge.


  • Listen openly and ask questions to make sure you’ve understood, without interpreting their answers.
  • Remain authentic.
  • Don’t judge, moralize or try to persuade them.
  • Remain attentive to the way their state could be affecting their ability to work.
  • Don’t formalize the person’s reactions or resistance. Remember the goal of the meeting: to get a solid understanding of the situation in order to resolve it to the best of your ability.


Once the problem has been identified, it’s crucial to act as to not lose your employee’s trust.

  • Take a step back if you need to. Set a second meeting to continue the conversation.
  • Ask that both you and the employee suggest possible courses of action.
  • With the other person, decide which element you’ll be acting on.
  • Set a time to reconvene and reassess.


  • Remember—you’re not a psychologist.
    – However, your support and guidance towards specialized resources are important when helping people facing difficulties.
  • Destigmatize the use of resources: they can help a number of people in different situations.
  • Get informed about the different services available to them:
    • Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
    • 811 — option 2 (psychosocial resource)
    • 211 (directory of community, public and para-public services).

Resources for managers

Are you in a difficult situation and wondering which approach to take? Visit our partners’ websites or contact: