Today marks Time to Talk Day 2020, a campaign run as part of Scotland's 'See Me' programme to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination. Time to Talk Day aims to encourage people all over Scotland to talk about mental health.

Research suggests approximately one in three 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 their workforce and taking a proactive approach to mental well-being.

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 well-being?

Mental ill health can be related to problems both inside and outside of work - regardless of the cause, there are a number of ways that employers can proactively approach mental well-being at work. For example:

  • Take steps to understand what mental ill health encompasses and assess the risks of work-related stress or other mental ill 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  • Educate your workforce on mental health to help to change outdated perceptions.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 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. You could also consider appointing mental health first-aiders.
  • Encourage open conversations about mental ill health to help create an environment where employees feel able to discuss concerns or issues which they may have. Often individuals with diagnosed mental health conditions do not inform their employers of their diagnosis, which contributes to increased levels of presenteeism (where employees continue to work when they are unwell).
  • Consider creating a dedicated mental health policy. Also 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, Workbox by Brodies, can view our dedicated mental ill health page, which covers:

  • Information of what mental ill health is and the impact it can have on the workplace;
  • What employers can do to prevent mental ill health;
  • Guidance on how to discuss mental ill health issues with employees;
  • Absence, discipline and performance issues;
  • Disability and reasonable adjustments.

Alternatively, if you would like to discuss anything regarding workplace well-being or have any queries on how to manage mental ill health issues, please get in touch with your usual Brodies contact.