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We recently have had Mental Health Awareness Week, which is an annual campaign run by the Mental Health Foundation.  It re-started my thoughts on what this means in the work place?  How can we promote the wellbeing of our employees and therefore minimise the impact that mental ill health can have.

There is research suggesting that one in four of us will experience mental ill health at some point in our lifetime. This statistic highlights the importance for employers of recognising the impact that mental ill health can have on a workforce.

There’s real benefit to taking a proactive approach to mental wellbeing.  There are tangible links between mental ill health and poor employee engagement.  Other impacts could be high levels of employee absence and staff turnover, or deterioration in working relationships and productivity.

Mental ill health can be related to problems outside or inside of the workplace. Regardless of the cause, employers can take a proactive approach towards mental wellbeing. For example, an employer could make efforts to understand what mental health really means and how it could be seen.  Assess the risk of work-related stress and mental health issues affecting the workforce. As an employer you should know your legal obligations, such as the duty to make reasonable adjustments. This will help you to focus on and plan the best strategy for your organisation.

You should facilitate education of your workforce on mental health to help to change outdated perceptions. This can involve talking regularly about mental health issues with staff and training your management team on how to deal with mental ill health issues which may arise.  There are courses on mental first aid – here is a link to the St John’s Ambulance website on this. The Red Cross run mental health and resilience courses – find information at this link.  You should ensure all staff are provided with mental health awareness information including details of available support.

You could also consider creating a mental health awareness policy. You should certainly review other relevant policies and how they are implemented, for example: bullying and harassment, and carer’s leave. Another idea would be to consider facilitating a better work/life balance if that fits your employee working model.  You may want to think about a review of flexible working arrangements and whether that can fit in with what your business needs.

One thing is certain though – one size does not fit all.   Employee well-being is an important aspect of any business, but how you each company goes about managing this issue in the workplace will be different.  It is worth taking time to consider the most effective way to implement new policies and practices to ensure your business and staff reap the positive benefits.  And of course, take careful and considered advice from an employment law specialist – give us a call and we will try to assist.

Photo by Timon Studler on Unsplash

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