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Good Practice Guide

Monitoring mental health at work

Equip leaders and employees with the skills to recognise and discuss mental health concerns.

Providing leaders and employees with the tools and skills for identifying mental health issues is an essential component of a mentally health workplace. In addition to knowledge of signs and symptoms of mental illness, leaders and employees should also be comfortable and able to approach a colleague who is showing signs of mental ill health. Keeping mental health topics at the forefront and regularly refreshing knowledge and practicing skills is key.

A few ways to ensure regular monitoring continues is to encourage people to start a conversation, train mental health first aid officers, and talk about mental health at employee forums and team meetings.

Start a conversation 

All the leader and employee training programs recommended in this website offer the knowledge and skills to engage with employees displaying mental health issues. However, the following resources focus specifically on how to create appropriate and meaningful conversations with an employee showing signs of a mental health issue.

Heads Up

Heads up is an initiative by Beyond Blue, supported by the National Mental Health alliance. Their aim is to provide tools that help create mentally healthy workplaces. The Heads Up website provides a wide range of resources, information and advice for individuals and organisations – all of which are designed to offer simple, practical and, importantly, achievable guidance.

Both Heads Up and Beyond Blue have developed a range of free on-line guides for approaching and talking with employees experiencing mental health issues. These resources provide information regarding how to prepare for the conversation, what to do and what not to do during the conversation and how to follow up with an employee/colleague after the conversation.


Heads Up offers some useful conversation starters if you notice a colleague or team member who does not seem their usual self.


Beyond Blue offer a short e-learning module on discussing mental health issues with workmates.


Heads Up also offer a free 30 minute e-learning module taht helps leaders with approaching an employee they are concerned about.


R U OK? is an Australian not for profit organisation started with the aim of helping people to connect with others and have conversations about mental illness. R U OK? aims to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with people around them and support anyone struggling with life.

R U OK? is a national day of action and takes place in September each year, asking workplaces to remind employees to ask each other ‘are you ok?’. The day is intended to remind people of the importance of having these conversations every day.

Further reading

R U OK? have a simple guide which aims to help people understand the signs someone might need help, how to start a conversation, how to manage reactions of the person and who else might be able to help.

Training Mental Health First Aid Officers

Mental Health First Aid Australia (MHFAA) provide an evidence-based, anti-stigma, mental health training program for workplaces.

Staff members who have undertaken the Mental Health First Aid course (see ’employee mental health education’ and ‘leader mental health education’ resources) can undertake further training to become an accredited’ Mental Health First Aid Officer’. This role ensures workplaces have a designated employee who can provide initial informal mental health support to others – comparable to a first aid officer, who provides initial treatment for physical conditions.

Quick Win

A mental health first aid officer can give employees somewhere to go that is not necessarily their leader or their HR team, which can make it easier and more comfortable to seek help. Mental Health First Aid Australia accredits mental health first aid officers.

Talking about mental health at team meetings

Heads Up has created a ‘workplace toolbox talk’ to increase the knowledge, skills and abilities of managers to openly talk about mental health with their team. It aims to encourage conversations about mental health in the workplace, reduce workplace stigma and support staff who may be experiencing a mental health condition. A Heads Up educator can train a group of managers ‘train the trainer’ style to deliver the talks to their teams – spanning the topics of anxiety and depression, the relationship between the workplace and mental health and taking action to support someone at work

Quick Win

Heads up’s toolbox talks can be used as resources to discuss mental health in team meetings.


The Future of Work Institute is a world-leading research centre with expertise in measuring employee and organisation outcomes, such as mental health and well-being. Contact us for support in developing tools that enable organisations to monitor mental health.