Mental Health in the workplace

Wednesday 10th October marked World Mental Health Day and this year there is a focus on young people and mental health in a changing world. Mental wellbeing remains at the forefront of the current challenges we face as a society and therefore as businesses.

The ‘Mental Health at Work’ Gateway, headed by the Duke of Cambridge, has recently been launched, where the charity MIND released the following statistics:

  • Only 2% of people would talk to HR about their mental health
  • 25% of people with mental health issues are left to cope in silence

At the Gateway event, two main factors were discussed to change culture when it comes to mental health in the workplace:

  1. Stop people feeling as if they have to hide.
  2. Make sure anyone with responsibility for others at work, knows what to do.

With this in mind, ACAS have produced a framework for positive mental health at work which outlines the responsibilities of Employers, Managers and Employees.

Employers should understand that it is their responsibility to:

  • Lead and embed a wellbeing strategy
  • Reduce stigma in the workplace
  • Tackle the causes of workplace stress
  • Support and train managers
  • Understand the impact personal issues can have on mental wellbeing

Managers need to be able to:

  • Build rapport with staff
  • Plan work with ‘people’ in mind
  • Handle difficult conversations effectively
  • Support work-life balance
  • Have confidence and knowledge in managing mental health

Finally, Employees should be able to:

  • Look after their own wellbeing
  • Use positive coping strategies
  • Identify personal stress triggers
  • Engage with their line managers
  • Take notice and support their colleagues

Ultimately the goal of the framework is to help businesses create an environment where employees feel safe to discuss any mental health issues without fear of prejudice or judgement. By following the framework, employees and managers alike can become more comfortable with discussing mental health openly and making adjustments – just like they would with a physical illness or disability.

By Jodi CoolingOperations Director and HR Consultant

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