Why good working relationships are important to your mental health

14/05/2018 12:00

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week from 16-22 May. So, we wanted to look at how this year’s theme of relationships ties in to the world of work.

Relationships at work

We spend a lot of our time at work. Getting on with people there makes work a better place to be.

Our relationships at work can have an impact on job satisfaction, learning and using our skills, staff turnover, morale, taking time off, and even our quality of life(1). 

It’s also important for team work. If you respect and understand the other people in your team you’ll value their opinions and take the time to consider them. That makes for a more productive and positive workplace.

All of this can have an impact on our mental health. Stress and mental ill-health are among the biggest causes of absence from work(2), so that's no small problem. 

Looking out for your colleagues

As well as looking after yourself, building good relationships is also about making sure your colleagues are doing well.

Take a tip from See Me’s recent Power of Okay campaign. Simply asking if someone is okay can make a big difference to their day. It shows that you are there for support, if they’re having a hard time. It’s about getting people to feel comfortable talking about their mental health, without worrying that they’ll be stigmatised.

Talking to your boss

Having a good relationship with your boss is important too. It helps to feel you can trust them and speak honestly about the pressures of work.

If you’re experiencing a mental health problem, it’s up to you what you want to disclose. Time to change has a good guide on speaking to your manager.

Taking care of yourself

We’ve found some useful resources:

Your rights

Some mental health problems fit under the definition of ‘disability’ under the Equality Act. SAMH has a useful guide to this.

That means you’re protected against discrimination. It also means your employer should make reasonable adjustments to enable you to do your job. This could include things like moving to a quieter desk, changing shift patterns, or having a mentor – the measures should be suited to you.

Find out more about your rights in work.


  1. Mental Health Foundation’s report, Relationships in the 21st Century
  2. CIPD's Absence Management Report 2015