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We were delighted to take part in a panel discussion with Hive Learning this week, talking about the eight fundamental skills required for positive mental health conversations in the workplace and how employers can foster open and collaborative workplace cultures.

The panel featured our Clinical Director Sarah Kendrick, Head of Product Management Christine Morrison, LMHC, BACP, and Clinical Supervisor and Diversity & Inclusion Chair, Dr Amanda Brown-Bennett. They discussed how positive conversations about mental health in the workplace are critical for both employees and organisations, as well as the eight fundamental skills needed to make that happen.


Clinical Director Sarah Kendrick, Head of Product Management Christine Morrison, LMHC, BACP, and Clinical Supervisor and Diversity & Inclusion Chair, Dr Amanda Brown-Bennett join Fiona Young from Hive Learning for a panel discussion on positive conversations in the workplace.

Key takeways:

More than half (52%) of employees don’t feel comfortable talking to their manager about mental health

Our data insights have found that despite the increasing pressures of the pandemic, many employees still don’t feel able to tell their managers how they are feeling and what support they need.

Organisations need to work to cultivate an environment of openness, empathy, acceptance and communication. As employers it’s about encouraging convos about mental health, but it’s also how we talk about it.

Connection is vital for creating a culture of openness

Connection is key to positive wellbeing. Sharing feelings with somebody and following that up with a self-care plan, can be really helpful in managing the events and problems that we all inevitably face in life and that we bring to work.

So is diversity and inclusion

When employees feel included, it directly impacts their willingness and performance. People will only feel able to say they need help in a place where they feel cared for and valued, and an environment of inclusivity enables them to have their needs met.

It’s not just psychologists that can have these types of conversations

Anyone can help each other to have a positive conversation. The Mental Health Works training we’ve developed with Hive, taken from our learnings of training 7,000 people to become Shout Volunteers aims to demystify these skills and enable anyone to

The Shout 85258 text service run by Mental Health Innovations has trained more than 7,000 volunteers.

As Sarah Kendrick explains: “Shout Volunteer training helps ordinary people develop extraordinary skills.

This is where the eight key skills are vital to learning how to have a positive and meaningful conversation.


The eight fundamental skills needed to have positive conversations in the workplace.

The eight skills of having positive conversations

  1. Active Listening: We teach people how to listen to understand instead of listening to respond. This can really be used in both our personal lives and at work.
  2. Validating: This is a simple and straightforward skill where you’re beginning a sentence with phrases that validate the other person’s experience. Instead of trying to fix things, you’re slowing down and showing that person that you are with them in that difficult moment.
  3. Positive points: These help reflect something back to someone that is positive about their qualities, thoughts and interactions, so that they can see a positive way to deal with their issues.
  4. Questions: We look at how to phrase questions so people don’t feel judged and use open-ended questions so that it feels collaborative and can lead someone into talking more about how they are feeling so that you can be the best support for them.
  5. Feelings: We listen for feeling words so that we can hone in on what this person is experiencing so that you can connect with them.
  6. Encourage: When you have all of the information, encouragement helps keep the conversation going so that the person you’re talking to shares more information so that you can move forward collaboratively.
  7. Map of past success: A lot of the time we’ll put our own skills and past learnings and experiences onto someone instead of thinking about what’s helped them before. So this skill helps identify what’s worked well for someone in the past.
  8. Summarise and connect to resources: This part of the conversation is about summarising and pulling it all together to help someone get clarity and move forwards, and signpost them to other mental health resources as required.

About Mental Health Works

According to the World Economic Forum, depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy $1 trillion per year.

We've partnered with Hive Learning to create Mental Health Works - a digital programme designed to help organisations foster a culture of trust and compassion.

Find out more about Mental Health Works.


Webinar: Eight ways to support positive mental health at work

If you missed the panel discussion, you can watch it on demand here.

Watch the recording