Mental Health Awareness Week – How can you promote well-being in your workplace?
As an employer, mental health and well-being should be high on your agenda. However, dealing with mental health issues at work can be difficult. A recent study carried out by Mental Health First Aid England found that only 14% of 2,000 workers said they felt comfortable discussing their mental health worries at work, compared to 42% of workers who felt able to talk about physical conditions. Clearly, many employees feel that there is still a stigma attached to discussing their issues with their employer, and many may not even be aware that their mental health is suffering.
ACAS guidance on mental health provides employers with ideas on how to develop action plans to change attitudes, create a mental health policy, train managers and ensure they champion awareness, and tackle work-related causes of mental health problems.
How can you make sure you comply with your responsibilities?
Given that 1 in 4 British workers are affected by conditions like anxiety, depression and stress every year, looking after the mental health of your employees makes business sense. Tackling stigma can make a real difference to sickness absence rates, productivity and retention.
Key to employees feeling comfortable and able to discuss their mental health is to encourage an open dialogue in your workplace surrounding mental health. This could be done in various way such as hosting awareness initiatives, having a workplace mental health first aider or simply encouraging members of staff in management positions to be open about how they are feeling.
Training is also vital so that managers feel able to address potential issues and recognise symptoms.
Failing to recognise when an employee is suffering when it would be reasonable to expect an employer to do so may expose a business to claims, including disability discrimination claims if the employee has a long-term mental health condition and the business fails to make adjustments to workload or performance processes.
The charity Mind has a range of tools to tackle stress in the workplace. These include creating a Stress Awareness Space where people can feel safe talking about stress, running training courses, encouraging exercise, and organising mindfulness sessions.
If you have concerns that a member of staff may be suffering in silence, or would like to have a comprehensive mental health code of practice but don’t know where to begin, please contact our employment team on 0161 926 9969 or visit our employment law specific twitter account at @HRGuruUK.