Employment

This week marks Mental Health Awareness Week, an annual campaign run by the Mental Health Foundation.

Research suggests one in four of us will experience mental ill health at some point in our lifetime. This statistic highlights the importance for employers of recognising the impact that mental ill health can have on your workforce and taking a proactive approach to mental wellbeing.

There are tangible links between mental ill health and poor employee engagement, high levels of employee absence and staff turnover, as well as exposure to other risks such as a deterioration in working relationships and productivity. With this in mind:

What can employers do to promote mental wellbeing?

Mental ill health can be related to problems outside or inside of the workplace. Regardless of the cause, employers can take a proactive approach towards mental wellbeing. For example:

  • Understand what mental health encompasses and assess the risk of work-related stress and mental health issues affecting your workforce. Know your legal obligations, such as the duty to make reasonable adjustments. This will help you to focus on and plan the best strategy for your organisation.
  • Educate your workforce on mental health to help to change outdated perceptions. This can involve talking regularly about mental health issues with staff, training your management team on how to deal with mental ill health issues which may arise and ensuring all staff are provided with mental health awareness information including details of available support.
  • Consider creating a dedicated mental health policy. Review other relevant policies and how they are implemented, for example: bullying and harassment, and carer’s leave. Perhaps a better work/life balance would make a positive change and you may want to think about a review of flexible working arrangements.

No one size fits all

Whilst employee well-being is an important aspect of any business, the appropriate approach to take and how you manage mental ill health will of course differ depending on your organisation and the industry in which you operate. It is worth taking time to consider the most effective way to implement new policies and practices to ensure your business and staff reap the positive benefits.

Employers with access to our award-winning online HR portal, Brodies Workbox, can view our dedicated mental ill health page, which covers:

  • Prevention
  • Detailed guidance for line managers on difficult conversations
  • What can you tell colleagues?
  • Absence, discipline or performance issues
  • Disability and reasonable adjustments.

You can also read our blog about the UK government’s framework for voluntary reporting on disability, mental health and wellbeing.

If you would like to discuss anything regarding workplace wellbeing or have any queries with how to manage mental ill health issues, please get in touch with your usual Brodies contact.

Katie Spearman

Practice Development Lawyer at Brodies LLP
Katie is an Assistant Practice Development Lawyer within the employment team. Her role involves assisting with the development and maintenance of Brodies BResourceFull Workbox, our award-winning online HR and employment law resource. Katie also provides practical, up-to-date legal materials for clients as well as her colleagues in the employment team and regularly blogs on the latest topical employment law issues.
Katie Spearman