We are in the midst of a mental health epidemic that has resulted from multiple factors: fallout from the covid epidemic, political and economical upheaval with a cost-of-living crisis, major conflict in the world and a failing health service.

Amid this uncertainty, employees are struggling with anxiety, depression, burnout, trauma and PTSD. Experiences vary according to each individual’s situation including socioeconomic status, employment, domestic responsibilities in terms of parenting and caregiving and other variables. Companies are also adjusting to the economic climate and may have fewer resources to support staff. It is therefore imperative that companies have structures in place to support mental health.

What are the signs and symptoms of depression?

Psychological symptoms can include low mood or sadness, helplessness, low self-esteem, tearfulness, irritability, anhedonia (the inability to feel pleasure), low motivation, anxiety, and suicidal ideation.

Physical symptoms can include slow movement, constipation, aches and pains, low energy, low libido, and poor sleep.

Social symptoms often present themselves in the avoidance of social contact as well as relationship difficulties at work and home.

It’s important to note that depression can come on gradually, so it can be difficult to notice something is wrong, and it may take a colleague or family member to bring it to light.

Destigmatising mental health

It is important to normalise mental health challenges as part of the human condition and to be open to sharing experiences and encouraging opportunities for communication. Larger organisations can employ Mental Health Champions who can build awareness and use social media platforms to educate employees. Such authentic leadership can increase the trust and engagement of employees and supporting staff during difficulty can reap dividends in terms of future loyalty and productivity.

Leaders need to model a healthy work life balance and ensure employees can follow suit by having realistic expectations of workload. Self-care needs to be a priority to prevent burnout and learning how to set boundaries. Managers can set an example of what they are doing to support themselves and encourage a work culture of turning off emails as appropriate and not contacting staff out of hours in a consistent manner.

Connection through checking in

Line managers should ensure they check-in with staff on a regular basis especially at times of change. With an increase in hybrid working and working from home, it is harder to notice the signs of a struggling colleague. Remote working also means there is less peer group support and opportunities for an informal chat and employees can’t get away from difficulties in the home environment which adds to their stress. It is important to ask specific questions about what support would be helpful and understand the impact on each individual with an empathetic and compassionate approach. Encouraging smart working practices such as the opportunity to work from home can avoid the stress and expense of commuting.

Solutions can include reiterating practices to support mental wellbeing, a personalised approach to identify specific stressors, offering flexibility and realistic expectations of what can be achieved and facilitating team members to be patient and mutually understanding of each other. The person with depression can be accommodated by team members to decrease their workload, allowing time for extra breaks and rearranging working hours to suit. For employees on a contract, managers can help in understanding entitlements to sick leave.

Medical support and ongoing communication

Within our organisation, we offer free of charge consultations with a doctor at the clinic who can professionally assess the situation confidentially and signpost colleagues to the correct channel. We also offer a comprehensive blood panel once yearly to exclude other medical problems. Many companies offer employees private health insurance that often have mental health helplines for work related stress and access to mental health pathways and signposting.

It’s important to always keep the line of communication open, the team need to be informed about organisational changes and updates with realistic expectations about workload and priorities. This transparency can also ensure that employees align their work, accordingly, making better decisions and using their time and resources more efficiently, resulting in a reduced risk of workplace stress and burnout.  Leaders need to also make sure that available mental health resources are known about to their employees.

Investment in training

There needs to be workplace mental health training for leaders and higher accountability to make sure this takes place. There may need to be specific focus depending on the patterns of how people are working for an organisation and managers will need to build specific skills to manage staff remotely. Employees need to be involved in finding their own solutions as they may be the experts here knowing what resources they can find in the situation.

CIPD which is a professional body for Human Resources and people development and MIND have produced guidelines for managers to ensure support for those experiencing stress and mental health issues at work.

Case studies

At the clinic, we have had employees over the years that have struggled within the workplace, below are some examples, including how we approached each employee’s situation resulting in positive outcomes.

A colleague was dealing with mental illness with a family member, this impacted on her children and then she developed a health condition herself. She was a self-employed contractor. She felt confident in her line manager to have confidential discussions about her situation, felt emotionally supported by regular check-ins and had some short sabbaticals of a few months to reduce work pressures and to find solutions to managing her family life and health.

A second colleague who is an employee was experiencing severe anxiety. Again, confidence in the line manager enabled a frank discussion about the triggers for the mental health issue, including isolation with remote working, no respite from the home environment and other family issues. The colleague worked at a solution that would work for her, was seen by a doctor at the clinic and appropriately signposted to her GP and counselling support. She had medical leave for 1 month and then a phased return to work with regular check- ins.

Tips for improving mental health with remote working

 While remote and flexible working offers many benefits, it’s important for employees to prioritise their own mental health. Some ways this can be achieved include:

  • Leave the home and go out for a walk
  • Keep your workspace separate from the rest of the house (where possible)
  • Get rid of clutter around your desk
  • Practice regular mindfulness meditation
  • Call a non-work friend to catch up and detach from work, either before or after work, or during your breaks
  • Step away from the screen throughout the day and make sure to take regular breaks to avoid ‘screen burnout’


In conclusion, fostering a workplace environment that supports employees dealing with depression is not only a moral imperative but also a strategic business decision. By implementing policies that prioritise mental health, providing access to resources, and cultivating a culture of understanding and empathy, company leaders can profoundly impact the well-being and productivity of their workforce.

Recognising the significance of mental health support not only strengthens employee morale but also contributes to a more resilient, compassionate, and ultimately successful organisation. As leaders, it is our responsibility to champion initiatives that prioritise the mental health of our employees, ensuring that they feel valued, supported, and empowered to thrive both personally and professionally.

Clinical Director at Marion Gluck Clinic | + posts

Dr Ghazala Aziz-Scott is a specialist in Women’s Integrative Health, Functional Medicine and Bioidentical Hormone Balancing.

The Marion Gluck Clinic is the UK's leading medical clinic that pioneered the use of bioidentical hormones to treat menopause, perimenopause and other hormone related issues. The clinic uses the method of bioidentical hormonal treatment to rebalance hormones to improve wellbeing, quality of life and to slow down ageing.