They’re the words and phrases of the moment. From the classroom, to the factory floor, to the boardroom, these words have a new-found level of respect.

Once seen as a sign of weakness, they’re words and phrases that for decades have largely been pushed aside by business, and indeed society. Until now.

I refer to mental health. Resilience, or the lack of it. Stress. Burnout.

We’re now talking about it. Aided by the work of rugby’s Sir John Kirwan and comedian Mike King, it’s okay to talk about it. In fact, it’s beyond okay. It’s mainstream.

The obvious result of de-stigmatising something is that more people “come out”. Gay rights is an obvious example. But mental health is an avalanche. Having given the people permission to speak about their mental health struggles, it seems there are more people suffering than we anticipated.

Of course, business is expected to do its bit to help such people. And so we should.

Believe it or not, a lot of businesses are still owned or led by the old-style “she’ll be right, harden up” brigade. You know, the sort who start their sentences with the words “back in my day …”.

I happen to be a member of that generation, too. However, as you become exposed to a particular set of challenges, you learn that you have to change your position from time to time. The new awareness and acceptance of mental health issues creates such a moment.

The tough part is this: a segment of those same business operators are up for this particular challenge. However, many of them are finding it difficult to know where to go for help. As a result, they are having to work it out for themselves.

I recently sat with a business audience in a two-hour presentation by a leading university academic on the subject. Of course there were the usual slides and graphs illustrating the problems. But despite the amount of time allowed for the discussion, there were no solutions offered. Not even hints or ideas about what business can do better.

Just a big long list of details about how many people are suffering and the reasons why so many of us are feeling the way we do.

Last week I spotted an advertisement for a symposium on mental health in the workplace.

The advertised presenters comprised government ministers and officials, academics, psychologists, occupational health people and the like.

Of course, all of these people have a role to play in dealing with the topic. But I expect, just like the academic mentioned earlier, none of them offer solutions for business leaders.

Surely there is a business leader out there somewhere who is doing a good job with this stuff who can share his or her experiences on how to support people.

Despite the usual rhetoric that business is not taking workplace wellness seriously, I see plenty of organisations that are.

The workplace often plays a part in the wellness challenge.

But mental health issues do not exist solely because of the job. Plenty of people bring many issues from their home life to their work life. In fact, I would go so far as to say that most mental health or stress related issues start elsewhere. The workplace gets blamed because that’s where people often, but not always, fall over.

As we survey our workplace, a proportion of our people will have issues with relationships, money, difficult kids, alcohol, physical health and sometimes drugs. And that’s before they turn up for work. For some, work is the place where they get away from all of that.

Don’t get me wrong. The workplace plays a part. Workplaces are pressure places. We give people budgets, turnaround times, response deadlines and sales targets. We expect our people to attend meetings, give presentations and give service with a smile to people they don’t like.

On top of that, if we do create opportunities for our people to talk, most managers are inept at listening to and responding to it. I recently sat in on a couple of manager reviews conducted by senior executives.

They were appalling, confused affairs that left the otherwise well-performing manager wondering about his or her future.

So, what can we, the managers and leaders, do to help our people to manage their stress levels or their mental health challenges?

There are the obvious things. We can encourage diet and exercise. The reality is that we can provide the education but we can’t do much else. Diet and exercise is a personal thing. In short, the person must get themselves organised to do it.

What we can do is understand what people freak out about when it comes to their job, and create an environment where they freak out less often.