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Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace

Mar 01, 2019

by Kimberley Wallace, Consultant
0333 400 7920 | kim@employassisthr.co.uk



Figures show that one in four people suffer from mental health problems every year, demonstrating that mental health is a topic that can no longer be ignored. 

Whilst the awareness surrounding mental health has gained momentum in more recent years, many employers do not know how to support their employees with these issues – or just don’t consider it to be their responsibility. 

In fact, whether work is causing mental health problems, or aggravating an existing problem, employers have a legal responsibility to support their employees.
Mental health related absences have a huge impact on the UK’s economy and its businesses, the Chief Medical Officer estimates that 70million working days are lost each year to mental health, costing Britain between £70-100million a year.

So what action should you take to make positive workplace changes towards mental health?

  • Embed a positive workplace culture towards mental health – encourage open discussions to manage and support your employees. Also, consider how your company’s culture may be causing or aggravating mental health issues, e.g. blame culture, working conditions, inflexible working patterns etc.;
  • Offer training to build mental health awareness and support methods;
  • Use free toolkits and resources available from the websites listed below;
  • Complete a stress at work risk assessment and act to reduce and avoid risks;
  • Use pre-employment medical questionnaires during recruitment to identify those with previous or existing mental health conditions and make reasonable adjustments;
  • Support employees on mental health related long-term absences by maintaining regular contact (if appropriate) and make reasonable adjustments to enable their return;
  • Don’t discourage staff from taking short-term absences related to mental health. One in five employees take a day off due to stress, but 90% feel unable to be honest about the reason for their absence;
  • Ensure that internal processes like recruitment and absence management aren’t discriminatory towards those with mental health conditions;
  • Review your company’s benefits package – is it offering wider benefits associated with employee’s mental and physical wellbeing?
  • Speak to a qualified Mental Health First Aider if you have any concerns or questions about your employees. 

If you have any questions about mental health, concerns for your employees or want to discuss mental health support at work, please contact EmployAssist HR. Kim and Ezra from the EmployAssist team are qualified Mental Health First Aiders.

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