Staff Health and Wellbeing Hub

Support for others

Information to help you support others that may be struggling with their mental health and wellbeing. Most people experiencing a problem with their mental health will speak to a friend, colleague or family member before they speak to a health professional, so your support can be really valuable.

Mental Health and Wellbeing Conversations 

If someone lets you know that they are experiencing difficult thoughts and feelings, it's common to feel like you don’t know what to do or say – but you don't need any special training to show someone you care about them, and often it can be the most valuable help you can offer. 

What to do

  • Listen. Simply giving someone space to talk and listening to how they’re feeling, without judgement or necessarily trying to offer any solutions, can be really helpful in itself. If they're finding it difficult to open up, let them know that you're there when they are ready. 

  • Offer reassurance. Seeking help can feel lonely, and sometimes scary. You can reassure someone by letting them know that they are not alone, and that you will be there to help. 

  • Stay calm. Even though it might be upsetting to hear that someone is distressed, try to stay calm. This will help your friend or family member feel calmer too, and show them that they can talk to you openly without upsetting you. 

  • Be patient. You might want to know more details about their thoughts and feelings, or want them to get help immediately. But it’s important to let them set the pace for seeking support themselves. 

  • Try not to make assumptions. Your perspective might be useful, but try not to assume that you already know what may have caused their feelings, or what will help. 

  • Check in with them regularly. Part of the emotional support you offer could be to keep things as normal as possible. This could include involving chatting about other parts of your lives. 

How to do this

In 1:1s use simple conversation prompts that go beyond “how are you?” (e.g. How are you coping? What has been the best part of your week so far? What have you been reflecting on since we spoke about this in the team meeting?). For other suggestions of questions to use refer to the Self-care in a Crisis guide.

In team meetings give each person (including yourself) space to share what’s happening for them and how they are doing. Use the following tool to guide you through:

Facilitating Mental Health and Wellbeing Conversations


What practical support can I offer? 

There is now a new mental health and wellbeing support toolkit available , aimed at communications and HR colleagues, as well as line managers signposting to University of Edinburgh services and resources. The toolkit may also be useful to any member of staff looking for guidance on this topic.

Further information on support to offer can be found in our Speak to Someone and Self Help sections.  


What training is available?

To raise awareness of mental health and mental health issues and illnesses, we are launching a Mental Health Awareness online course available to all staff.

Access the Mental Health Awareness Course


Additional areas of support from the University of Edinburgh

Reasonable Adjustment Training  

This module will help you to understand disability, and identify how reasonable adjustments can be made in the workplace for staff with disabilities.   

Reasonable Adjustment Training

Stress information for managers  

Guidance and advice to help managers to support their staff experiencing stress.  

Stress information for managers

Guidance on Respect (Bullying and Harassment)  

Guidance and resources to understand and help eliminate bullying and harassment.  

Guidance on Respect


Additional areas of support from outside the University

How to Support Mental Health at Work  

Mental Health Foundation’s publication on how to support mental health at work for those with existing issues, for those at risk, and for the workforce as a whole.  See Sections on Supporting a Colleague and Supporting a person with ongoing mental health problems. 

How to support mental health at work - site

Guidance for Managers

Mind and CIPD have produced guidance to support managers understand signs and symptoms of mental health and how to support others. 

People Manager's Guide to Mental Health

Support for Staff and Students Experiencing Gender-based Violence and Abuse

Advance HE in partnership with the charity #EmilyTest, CDN and Universities Scotland have produced guidance and support for staff and students who might be experiencing gender-based violence and abuse while social distancing measures are in place due to Covid-19.

Supporting Staff & Students Experiencing Gender-based Violence (GBV) during COVID-19 

Self care in Leadership

Know You More, our coaching partner, has created a Leader's Guide to align personal and team resilience  by creating space for reflection and self-care. This resource can be used as a general performance enhancer, remedy or response to stressors, to enable transition of a team through change or uncertainty, build capability of the team, or as a core culture builder.understand your own reactions at this time of crisis and identify your personal strengths and resources to support you stay resilient and adapt.

Leader's Guide