Updated: Mar 10
Mental health in the workplace is a growing concern in the UK, with statistics showing that 1 in 6.8 people experience mental health problems while on the job. Women in full-time employment are nearly twice as likely to have a common mental health disorder compared to men.
The UK government has launched a Voluntary Reporting framework to support employers in reporting on disability, mental health and disability. This framework aims to encourage employers to take action and create a more supportive and inclusive workplace for employees.
Employers can take several steps to support their employees' mental health, such as carrying out risk assessments, making reasonable adjustments, keeping an eye on absences, and keeping lines of communication open. Creating a culture of openness and support can also help reduce stigma and encourage employees to seek help when needed.
It's important for employers to recognise the impact of mental ill-health in the workplace, not only on employees but also on productivity and overall business success. Investing in employee well-being can increase engagement, reduce absenteeism, and enhance performance.
What are the benefits of promoting mental health in the workplace?
Promoting good mental health in the workplace in the UK can have numerous benefits for both employees and employers. Here are some of the key benefits:
Enhanced Productivity: A healthy state of mind can significantly impact an employee's productivity and involvement at work. Consequently, this can result in favourable business results and overall enhanced performance.
Reduced absenteeism: Mental health conditions are a leading cause of absenteeism in the workplace. By promoting mental wellbeing, employers can reduce the number of sick days taken by their employees.
Increased job satisfaction: Employers who take measures to promote mental health in the workplace can foster a positive work atmosphere where employees feel appreciated and supported. This, in turn, boosts job satisfaction levels and enhances employee retention rates.
Better employee relationships: Promoting good mental health can help improve relationships between colleagues, as well as between employees and their managers. This can lead to better communication, collaboration, and teamwork.
Improved reputation: Employers who prioritise mental wellbeing are seen as caring and responsible by their employees, customers, and stakeholders. This can help improve its reputation as a socially responsible organisation.
Overall, companies that prioritise mental health at work see benefits not only for individual employees but also for the organisation as a whole.
Why don't people talk about mental health in work?
Mental health is a crucial aspect of overall well-being, and it's essential to address this issue in the workplace.
However, despite the growing awareness of mental health conditions, many people still hesitate to talk about it at work. This is especially true in the UK, where there is a stigma attached to mental disorders and work-related stress.
One reason why people don't talk about mental health in the workplace is fear of discrimination or negative consequences. Employees may worry that their employers will view them as weak or incapable if they disclose their mental health struggles. Moreover, they may fear that they will lose their job or be passed over for promotions if they reveal their condition.
Another reason why people don't talk about mental health at work is a lack of awareness or understanding. Many employees may not realise that they are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition, or they may not know how to seek help.
What are the employer's responsibilities regarding mental health conditions?
Employers have a crucial role to play in supporting their employees' mental health and well-being. Here are some of the employer's responsibilities regarding mental health in the UK:
1. Providing a Safe and Healthy Work Environment
Employers have a legal duty to provide a safe and healthy work environment for their employees. This includes taking steps to prevent work-related stress, which can lead to mental health problems.
Ideas for creating a safe and healthy work environment include implementing flexible working, providing access to mental health resources, and offering support such as counselling or mentoring.
2. Raising Awareness of Mental Health Issues
Employers should raise awareness of mental health issues among their employees and provide information on how to seek help if needed.
Here are some ways employers can raise awareness of mental health issues at work:
Provide Mental Health Resources: Employers can provide resources such as counselling services, employee assistance programs, or mental health hotlines to help employees who may be struggling with their mental health. This can help reduce the stigma around seeking help and encourage employees to prioritise their well-being.
Educate Employees: Employers can educate their employees about the signs and symptoms of common mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. This can help employees recognise when they or a coworker may need support.
Create a Supportive Culture: Employers can create a culture that prioritises employee well-being by promoting work-life balance, encouraging open communication, and providing opportunities for professional development and growth.
Offer Mental Health Days: Employers can offer paid time off specifically designated for mental health days. This sends a message that taking care of one's mental health is just as important as physical health.
Lead by Example: Finally, leaders within the organization should lead by example by prioritising their own mental health and modelling healthy behaviours for their teams.
3. Supporting Employees with Mental Health Problems
Employers should provide support for employees who are experiencing mental health problems, such as offering flexible working arrangements, providing access to counselling services and signposting relevant support services.
It is also important to ensure that employees are not discriminated against because of their mental health condition.
4. Tackling Stigma and Discrimination
Employers should tackle any stigma and discrimination associated with mental health by promoting an inclusive workplace culture that values diversity and supports all employees.
Ideas for tackling stigma and discrimination include training staff on unconscious bias, setting up open dialogues about mental health, offering specialised mental health awareness training and enforcing a zero-tolerance policy towards any form of bullying or harassment.
By taking these steps, employers can create an environment where employees feel safe to talk openly about their mental health and get the help they need.
With the right support, employees can be better able to manage their mental health and remain productive at work. Employers have an important role to play in promoting positive mental health and well-being among their staff, so it is essential that employers take steps to protect their employees' psychological safety.
How do I recognise a mental health problem?
Recognising a mental health problem in an employee can be challenging, as not all symptoms are visible or obvious. However, there are some signs that you can look out for that may indicate an employee is struggling with their mental health.
Changes in behaviour: If you notice that an employee's behaviour has changed significantly, such as becoming more withdrawn or irritable, it could be a sign of a mental health issue.
Decreased productivity: Mental health problems can affect an employee's ability to concentrate and perform their job duties effectively. If you notice a decrease in their productivity or quality of work, it may be worth checking in with them.
Increased absenteeism: Employees with mental health issues may take more time off work usual or arrive late to work frequently.
Physical symptoms: Some mental health problems can manifest as physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches.
Mood changes: If an employee seems consistently sad, anxious, or stressed, it could be a sign of a mental health problem.
If you do suspect that an employee is struggling with their mental health, it's important to approach the situation with empathy and understanding. Encourage them to seek professional help and offer support where possible.
How can I support an employee with ongoing mental health problems?
Supporting an employee with ongoing mental health problems is crucial for both their well-being and the success of your business.
As an employer or manager, it's important to create a culture where employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health concerns. Providing access to mental health resources and educating yourself on common signs and symptoms can help you recognise when an employee may be struggling.
Offering flexible work arrangements, checking in regularly, promoting self-care, and encouraging professional help if necessary are all ways to support your employees' mental health.
Above all, treating everyone with respect and compassion is essential in creating a supportive environment that prioritises the well-being of your team members.
How can I support someone if they are off work with stress?
Supporting an employee who is on leave with stress is crucial for their recovery and well-being. While it's important to respect their privacy and give them space, staying in touch with the person during their absence can help them feel connected and supported.
You could send a friendly message every now and then to check in, but be mindful not to pressure them into responding if they aren't ready.
When the employee is ready to return to work, it's essential to have a plan in place that takes into account any necessary accommodations or adjustments. This could include reducing workload or providing additional support as needed.
It's also important to promote a healthy work-life balance for all employees to prevent stress from becoming overwhelming in the first place. Encouraging open communication, offering resources such as counselling or therapy, and treating everyone with compassion and respect are all key ways of supporting an employee who is on leave with stress.
Supporting the mental health of your employees is essential for the success and well-being of your business. Recognising signs and symptoms, offering resources, providing flexible arrangements, staying in touch with those on leave, and creating a supportive environment are all key ways to look out for the mental health of everyone in your team.
With empathy and understanding, you can ensure that your organisation is a safe and supportive workplace for everyone. If you have any questions or need further guidance on how to support your employees’ mental health, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.