Responding to mental health struggles as a leader

2 Minute Read

Reaching out for help is one of the most difficult things someone can do. Especially when it comes to asking for help with mental health. If someone discloses their struggles, no matter what the relationship is between you and the person who’s chosen to open up, responding in a way that’s supportive and empathetic can leave a lasting, positive mark.

But, what exactly do you do with the information? Here are some tips on what to do when someone shares their mental health struggles:

Acknowledge and validate feelings

The first thing to do when someone shares their mental health struggles with you is to acknowledge their feelings and validate their experience. This means showing empathy and understanding towards their situation. You can say something like, “I’m sorry to hear that you’re going through this. It must be really difficult for you.”

Use active listening

Active listening is a crucial skill in any conversation, but especially when it comes to sensitive topics like mental health. It involves fully concentrating on what the person is saying, understanding their perspective, and responding in a way that shows you’ve heard and understood them. Some active listening techniques include asking open-ended questions, paraphrasing what they’ve said, and reflecting on their emotions.

Be prepared for discomfort

Talking about mental health can be uncomfortable, and it’s normal to feel some discomfort when someone shares their struggles with you. However, it’s important to be prepared for this discomfort and not let it interfere with your ability to support the person. Remember that it’s not about you, and that you can play a supportive role to someone who’s chosen to trust you with their truths.

Offer resources

If you’re not a professional therapist, you’re not expected to be a mental health expert, but you can offer resources and support. This might include referring them to workplace support options, a mental health program or a therapist. If you partner with CloudMD, you’ll also have access to expert-approved content that’s provided to you or “Ask an Expert” event invitations.

Respect confidentiality

It’s important to respect confidentiality when someone shares their mental health struggles with you. Unless the person is in immediate danger or has given you permission to share their information, you should keep their struggles confidential. This means not discussing it with other team members or others without their consent.


Following up with the person after they’ve opened up to you about their mental health can show that you care and are there for them if your tank is full. You can ask how they’re doing, offer additional resources, or simply let them know that you’re available to talk if they need support in the future.

By handling the situation with care and compassion, you can build or contribute to a healthy work environment where colleagues feel comfortable opening up about their mental health struggles. It’s all part of building an inclusive and safe workspace.

CloudMD’ s health and wellness program, Kii, provides organizations with Employee AssistanceMental Health SupportsTelemedicineAbsence Management and Occupational Health & Safety. It’s all accessible through one, connected program with a highly skilled nurse to help employees navigate the full spectrum. Connect with us to bring this innovative program to your organization.