Where to Find Support if You Feel Unable to Approach Your Manager

Tuesday 11 August 2020
Not everyone will feel comfortable opening up to their manager about mental health and wellbeing issues at work, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't talk. Here are some other ways to help yourself.
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The sudden onset of lockdown has created challenges in every aspect of our lives. For many people, it’s affected the way we deal with stress, anxiety, or frustration. Public health precautions mean that many people don’t have their normal access to mental health support. Many people have had to find new ways of dealing with mental health issues that have bubbled to the fore; many will have found this a very difficult process.

In a recent poll of UK key workers by YouGov, almost half of respondents were dealing with at least one mental health issue because of their workload. The most common issues were stress (49%), anxiety (47%) or having sleeping problems (37%). A third of key workers were also struggling to concentrate (34%), 29% felt angry and 25% hopeless.

These findings show that a number of workers’ mental stocks have been depleted since the Covid-19 pandemic began. Clearly, these issues will have a knock-on effect on how well we’re able to do our jobs – as well as having an impact on how well we can care for ourselves and those around us.

It’s vital we can look after ourselves and identify when things are becoming too much, but how do we ask for reasonable adjustments to be made to allay the stresses?

While it’s clear that every employee should feel able and comfortable enough to approach their manager with these concerns, the reality can sometimes be different. According to another poll by YouGov, only 4% of respondents would talk to their colleagues and 5% would talk to their manager about their mental health. A shocking 13% said that they would not talk to anyone about it.

CMI research has found that half of managers have never received training on managing mental health in the workplace. This can only have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, as budgets were slashed, workers furloughed and possibly isolated, and many people had a sudden increase or decrease in their workload...

If you find yourself unable to speak to a manager, here are some resources available that may help you in the short term.


The NHS website is a good place to start: there you can understand your symptoms and get you more detail about the types of mental health concerns that may be affecting you. The site also points towards some useful resources, as well as giving insight into approaching your GP and getting signed off from work for stress.

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England

Employers can kickstart the action by booking some of their team leads onto a Mental Health First Aid course. They will then learn all the key skills needed to support someone through a difficult time, and this person can provide in-house information sheets and resources for the organisation.

Time to Change

As well as listing other resources to contact, Time to Change has also created a useful guide for employers to use during the pandemic.


The UK’s first 24/7 text-only mental health support service, SHOUT is great if you find it difficult to speak to someone about your concerns and would prefer to type it.


Mind’s website can give you real-life stories to show that you’re not alone, and even runs the Elefriend network which is a supportive community where you can be yourself. They even have a checklist of ways you can reach out to people.

Mental Health Foundation

This website has a well-curated resources page to assist you in finding the most appropriate help available.

Early on in the lockdown, CMI’s chief executive Ann Francke chatted with Simon Blake, chief executive of Mental Health First Aid England about managing your own and your team’s mental health. We hope you find some of the insights useful, and you can watch the whole session back here.

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