Get Wellness Planning!

Julie Denning, Managing Director, W2W

As a line manager, you may find it very difficult to start a conversation with one of your colleagues about their health. In recent times there has been an understandable push for Line Managers to be mental ill-health aware. 

As we know, mental ill-health and pain, primarily back pain, are the two leading causes for sickness absence. We also know that a supportive employer can make all the difference in helping an individual to get back into work after some time off work. 

But how do you feel about doing this? When we have asked this question at wellbeing training events, we often hear the following:

 ‘Its none of my business’ 

‘ I don’t know what to say’

‘What if I say the wrong thing?’

‘What if they think I am interfering?

‘I don’t want to seem like a pushy boss’

Do these sound familiar?

 World mental health day is a great time to take the leap and pick up the conversation. You may find it is not as difficult as you first thought and that it will have a positive outcome. You will have demonstrated to your colleague that you care and want to help. 

However, before you leap, use tools to help you. There is a wealth of information ‘out there’ to guide you around mental health awareness. We strongly recommend you take a look at MIND’s Wellness Action Plan template: Wellness Action Plans.

This easy to use tool that takes you through the questions you need to ask to best support someone back to work. It’s as simple as going through a document and filling in the boxes. The beauty of it is that you don’t have to worry about what comes next in the conversation and at the end, you will have a plan that is transparent and easy to review regularly.

It helps your colleague tell you what they need from you and how you can help them while they are getting back into work. It can even be used to support people who are in work but who may have a flare-up of their symptoms now and again. It is important to remember that people can be diagnosed with an illness but function well. They might need your help now and again. 

 Questions raised in the plan are: 

What helps you stay mentally healthy at work?

Are there any situations at work that can trigger poor mental health for you?

Are there any early warning signs that we might notice when you are starting to experience poor mental health?

What support could be put in place to minimise triggers or help you to manage the impact?

Do you think you could ask these questions? Does this seem like a good starting point to have a conversation with your colleagues? Does this document and process feel more reassuring for you?

 If you need help, ask your HR lead or Wellbeing team. They are likely to have come across this document. If you need further support, then contact us at W2W, and we would be happy to provide training to support you.  


If you want to hear more about our approach and the work that we do to help people to recover their function after a diagnosis of a long term condition, then please get in touch at

Working To Wellbeing (W2W) provides consultancy and intervention for health and wellbeing at work. We provide wellbeing and rehabilitation services, supporting employees with physical health, mental health and long term conditions, the three key causes of presenteeism and absence. We join the dots between the physical and mental health issues that cause and perpetuate poor health. Our specialist clinicians are highly trained to provide a truly integrated service that results in health behaviour change and optimum work capability.