Good mental health in the workplace

Issues with mental health are very common, costly, and are especially difficult to deal with. Their very nature is complex, personal and often misunderstood.

It’s understandable why Employers are not quite sure what to do when an employee is ill with mental health issues such as stress or depression.

According to ACAS, mental health issues cost the UK economy 30 billion pounds a year through lost production, recruitment and absence. CIPD put the current cost of sickness absence at £554 per year per person employed. Anxiety, “stress” and depression make up a large component.

So, what can Employers do to promote positive mental health at work? ACAS have produced a fantastic guide which is an informative read.

Top tips for Employers:

  1. If an employee has a mental health problem talk to them confidentially about it. If they are signed off by their Dr, arrange a welfare meeting at a convenient location; on site might not be the best place to meet up.
  2. Try to establish any work related causes of the problem. Sometimes it isn’t work that is impacting on how they are feeling.
  3. Seek medical advice. As Employers you are unlikely to be medically trained so seeking advice from the employee’s GP or obtaining an Occupational Health report is useful to understand how the organisation can support the employee.
  4. Look to offer professional counselling and/ or explore any Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) which may be available.
  5. Make reasonable adjustments as necessary such as reviewing workloads, changing the working environment, offering a phased return to work.
  6. Create a culture of taking mental health issues seriously and promoting an environment where staff are not afraid to talk about issues openly. A latest report by the CIPD states that only 8% of employers have a wellbeing strategy however 97% of employers believe in the link between wellbeing and organisational performance.

The tips above are common sense but employment law in this area is complex. An employee may be covered by the Equality Act and therefore classed as disabled. This carries a number of implications, on which Employer Solutions can advise.

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