Managing mental health advice for in the workplace

by | Oct 23, 2021 | Blog

Did you know?

  • 41% of employees have experienced poor mental health where work was a contributing factor last year and earlier statistics showing 300,000 people lose their jobs each year because of long term mental health problems.
  • Only 56% of people feel comfortable talking about mental health issues in the workplace.
  • 300,000 people lose their jobs each year because of long term mental health problems.

Earlier in October we focused on World Mental Health Day and it was fantastic to see all the awareness raising and practical advice shared.   Working with a wide range of clients, we are often asked what else they can be doing to support their teams in managing their mental health.  This short article sets out some advice for employers.

Never assume!

Individuals may find it difficult to disclose information relating to their mental health so try to make it easier for them by ignoring many of the stereotypes that exist around the subject.  Remember not to second guess how an individual is feeling or what their symptoms may be.  Many people are able to manage their condition and perform their role to a high standard.

Confidentiality is key!

People opening up about what is likely to be a private and sensitive subject can be understandably an anxious time so be prepared to put in place plans to ensure confidentiality is top priority.   This could include creating policies to reassure anyone who discloses private information to their manager that this will not be discussed with their colleagues.

Talking is invaluable!

it is so important to have an open dialogue with employees when discussing their mental health and wellbeing.  Remember to focus on the person not the problem, asking open and honest questions about their condition, what the implications are and most importantly what support somebody will need.

Be flexible!

Mental health issues affect different people in different ways and at different times in their lives, so line managers need to be prepared to adapt how they support each individual to suit that person and their circumstances.  Work with your colleague to develop an individual wellness action plan.  It is vitally important you implement any reasonable adjustments, and remember these do not need to be costly or complicated.  You could allow a flexible working request or agree a temporary change in working hours.  Provide some quiet space to work or set up a buddy scheme.

Seek professional advice!

Most importantly it is highly unlikely you will be able to solve or fix the issues presented to you with professional support.   Speak to your HR department, consider occupational health and employee assistance programme support or contact organisations such as Mind.  Check out their website where they offer free resources/booklets, training and action plan templates.

The link below takes you to some further fascinating statistics as well as providing detail on the Mental Health at Work commitment, and a simple framework to implement.

The Mental Health at Work Commitment

Source – BITC and BUPA 2020 and Stevenson and Farmer, 2017