October the 10th is the World Health Organisation’s World Mental Health Day. This has encouraged great awareness raising campaigns, individual story sharing and amplified the need for further discussions on positive mental health.

It also sparks an interesting conversation about the distinction between the personal and professional – just what place do discussions about mental health have in the workplace and what can employers be doing to support employee mental health?

For many, ‘mental health’ is an overarching label for illnesses or issues that people may face, such as stress, depression, anxiety and more. However, only focusing on the issues limits the discussion and the solutions available. This means that it is important for us to take a well rounded view of mental health – which is where the Dual Spectrum Model comes in handy:


The Dual Spectrum Model combines two different scales which are operating at the same time:

These two scales combine to create four quadrants as shown:

  1. Struggling people have a mental illness and poor mental wellbeing which means that they are in danger of becoming overwhelmed, facing a mental health crisis and so are in need of support.
  2. Coping people have a mental illness but have high mental wellbeing which allows them to implement coping mechanisms, seek support, find contentment and manage their illness proactively.
  3. Languishing people do not have a mental illness but because they have poor mental wellbeing they may lack satisfaction in life, feel apathetic or a sense of stagnation. This may lead to later risk of some mental illnesses or dysfunctional behaviours.
  4. Flourishing people do not have a mental illness and are able to utilise their positive wellbeing to live a happy, meaningful and fulfilling life.

Understanding this model is both helpful for identifying the needs of your self and your team members, as well as recognising the different strategies that you can adopt as a leader or employer.


One could easily argue that ‘mental health’ is a personal issue and nothing to do with the workplace. Though on paper this could be justified, we are ever moving towards a workplace culture that recognises employers have a responsibility to acknowledge and even nurture the whole person at work. Even the more reluctant employers are starting to recognise that taking employee wellbeing seriously has a return on investment as employees with positive mental health:

Good mental health is good for business – as well as being the right thing to do.


We can go back to the Dual Spectrum Model as a guide for what employers can do to boost positive mental health.

The mental illness scale – this is probably the more intimidating of the two scales since mental illnesses are traditionally handled privately and can involve specialist professionals such as the GP, counsellors or occupational psychologists. Although employers do not have a role in ‘fixing’ a mental illness, they can still be proactive and supportive towards employees who are experiencing mental illness:

The mental wellbeing scale – this scale is full of opportunity because no matter where you are at on the Dual Spectrum, you can always develop or consolidate strategies for positive mental wellbeing which will support the health of your workforce.


The exciting things about the Dual Spectrum Model for employers are that it

The Self Leadership Initiative works with individuals and teams to provide positive psychology workshops which support positive mental health. To discuss a strategy for your team, book a consultation.