World Mental Health Day is happening today, Monday 10 October 2022. The theme for this year, as set by the World Federation for Mental Health, is ‘making mental health and well-being for all a global priority’.
Did you know that one in four people in the UK will have a mental health problem at some point? While mental health problems are common, most are mild, tend to be short-term and are normally successfully treated, with medication, by a GP.
Anxiety and depression are the most common mental health problems and often a reaction to a difficult life event, such as bereavement. However, they can also be caused by work-related issues.
Work-related mental health issues must be assessed to measure the level of risk to staff. Where a risk is identified, steps must be taken to remove it or reduce it as far as reasonably practicable.
Employers may have further legal requirements, to make reasonable adjustments under equality legislation. Information about employing people with a disability can be found on GOV.UK.
The ‘Thriving at Work’ report sets out a framework of actions – called ‘Core Standards’ – that the reviewers recommend employers of all sizes can and should put in place:
- Produce, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan that promotes good mental health of all employees and outlines the support available for those who may need it
- Develop mental health awareness among employees by making information, tools and support accessible
- Encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling, during the recruitment process and at regular intervals throughout employment, offer appropriate workplace adjustments to employees who require them
- Provide employees with good working conditions and ensure they have a healthy work life balance and opportunities for development
- Promote effective people management to ensure all employees have a regular conversation about their health and well-being with their line manager, supervisor or organisational leader and train and support line managers and supervisors in effective management practices
- Routinely monitor employee mental health and well-being by understanding available data, talking to employees, and understanding risk factors.
By taking action on work-related stress through this type of approach as an employer, you will meet parts of the core standards framework, as they will:
- Form part of a mental health at work plan
- Promote communications and open conversations, by raising awareness and reducing stigma
- Provide a mechanism for monitoring actions and outcomes.
Work-related stress and mental health problems often go together, and the symptoms can be very similar. Work-related stress can aggravate an existing mental health problem, making it more difficult to control.
Common mental health problems and stress can exist independently for example people can experience work-related stress and physical changes such as high blood pressure, without having anxiety, depression, or other mental health problems.
Stress is a reaction to events or experiences in someone’s home life, work life or a combination of both. As an employer, you can help manage and prevent stress by improving conditions at work. But you also have a role in making adjustments and helping someone manage a mental health problem at work.
Employers need to ensure they are training and supporting managers, and all employees, in the workplace to present the correct working culture and help identify issues as these arise.
Managers should receive appropriate training in communication, setting achievable targets, managing performance and providing feedback. Identifying poor mental health in the workplace as early as possible will help when looking to provide support.
Disclosing mental health issues is not the easiest thing for anyone, so it’s essential that open and honest communication is supported by the managers.
It’s important employers are recognising that working demands and pressures have a significant impact on the mental well-being of their staff. A recent report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that the increase in technology and remote ways of working meant that staff felt they could not switch off after working hours.
Setting out company expectations about working hours, working from home and switching off, will allow employees to have a greater work life balance and feel that they can put down their workplace technology outside of working hours.
Providing workplace support and highlighting courses or advice staff can seek is an important way of emphasising the positive workplace culture around mental health.
Our eLearning well-being courses cover topics on Mental Health.
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