Mental Health Week 5-11 Oct, Day 3 – Managing Boundaries – Mental Health Issues

Managing Boundaries – Mental Health Issues

Boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that are created to identify reasonable and safe ways for other people to behave around an individual. Boundaries also indicate how the individual may respond when another person steps outside those limits.

 Boundaries are important in all workplaces as they define the limits and responsibilities of the people who make up the workplace.

Setting personal boundaries can contribute to a better working environment and increased wellbeing.

Personal boundaries may include:

  • Taking regular allocated breaks e.g. lunch breaks
  • Not being available 24/7 for example only responding to work calls and emails during working hours
  • Taking care of your own health and safety
  • Being mindful of your own triggers and stress levels
  • Discussing any workplace concerns with relevant managers so that any issues may be addressed and not escalates.

 When boundaries are clearly defined, organisations work more efficiently and staff are clear about what defines acceptable and non-acceptable behaviours and interactions.

 Boundaries when supporting a work colleague

 It can be difficult and challenging to support a work colleague experiencing mental health issues. This can become increasingly difficult when staff are not clear about where their relationship with the organisation begins and ends, what their role is within this context or what the appropriate boundaries are.

When supporting a work colleague with a mental health issue, it is important to remember what is part of your role and what is not.


  • Be clear about your role and responsibilities at your organisation
  • Know your limits, what you can or cannot assist with
  • Listen and direct a work colleague to more appropriate sources of help. This may include referring them to internal organisational support services (Employee Assistance Program), providing relevant information, or assisting them to contact their medical doctor or a family member
  • Respect and maintain privacy

Do not:

  • Act as a counsellor
  • Attempt to diagnose the issue
  • Give advice – unless it is about how things operate in your organisation
  • Make yourself the only point of contact for the work colleague with a mental health issue
  • Spend too much time worrying about the other person or doing too much for them
  • Call family members to mediate and assist without informing the staff member experiencing difficulties
  • Talk about the staff member’s issues or illness with other staff members

 When supporting a staff member with a mental health issue, it is important to provide support in a way that is professional and consistent with your organisation’s policies, while respecting another person’s privacy and personal circumstances.

It is important to remember that speaking openly about mental health at your organisation will reduce stigma and encourage help-seeking behaviour.

How do I get more information?

For more information on how AP Psychology & Consulting Services can partner with you to establish leading edge human wellbeing solutions for your business please contact us on 1300 335 336 or email

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44 Garden St South Yarra, Victoria 3141

TEL: 1300 335 336

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