Mental Health

There is no health, without mental health. Taking regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, limiting alcohol consumption and avoiding drugs all contribute to a healthy body and mind. All of these activities can be promoted in any workplace. Smoking to reduce stress can make quitting very difficult, so it is not recommended as a way to alleviate anxiety or stress. Mental health awareness can be promoted in the workplace.

The larger an organisation, the greater the prevalence rate of stress. There is a lot of practical advice out there to help you create an atmosphere at work, which is healthy and supportive.

The main workplace issues to consider are:

  • Providing accurate information about mental health to reduce stigma and increase awareness,
  • Stress at work risk assessments,
  • Mental health awareness training for staff, especially line managers,
  • Strong leadership and a supportive absence management policy,
  • Good communication throughout the organisation,
  • Having a mental health & wellbeing policy covering prevention, recovery and return to work.

What you can do right now

Run a mental health awareness campaign

The objective of running such a campaign is to reduce stigma. It is still difficult to tell others at work that you have a mental health condition even though one in four of us suffer from poor mental health every year.

Running a campaign can be achieved through sharing posters, leaflets and electronic resources with the rest of the workforce. Such a campaign should generate conversation among colleagues.

Here are some national campaigns to get you started:

You could also incorporate mental health awareness into your alcohol, healthy eating and physical activity campaigns.

Provide information about mental health in the workplace

Mental health can be compromised by personal factors, issues at work or a combination of the two. Here are some sources of information, aimed at helping the individual, irrespective of the factors causing the condition:

Please check the list of websites at the end of the page, for more specific sources of help and information.

Stress at Work Risk Assessments

The Health and Safety Executive has some very helpful and practical advice for you. The Management Standards Approach can be used to assess the stress level in your organisation. It identifies six primary sources of stress in the workplace: Demands, Control, Support, Relationships, Role and Change. Find out more about The Management Standards Approach.

This link takes you to the beginning of the stress risk assessment process, using The Management Standards Approach. By clicking on each stage in the process, you will receive additional information, tips and free tools.

What does your risk assessment tell you? Did you find a problem in your workplace and you want solutions? Click here for some real life individual and business stress-at-work case studies.  This is a link to a sample action plan, following a stress at work risk assessment.

Click here for more background information on stress at work.

Don’t forget, you have a legal duty to reduce the risk of stress in the workplace!

Take a look here for more on stress and the law.

For further reading

Train your Line Managers

Line managers are considered key to managing stress levels in the workplace. A line manager will be the person who needs to sensitively handle a member of staff who is showing signs of stress. Also, the management style and behaviour of a line manager can influence how the team and individual perform.

Note: If you are a micro business owner, you will be the line manager too, along with all of the other responsibilities of running a business!

Do your line managers need training on managing stress in the workplace? The Health and Safety Executive has provided a series of tools to use to help you find out.

There is also a guide for line managers on how to support and manage people with mental health problems in the workplace.

Do you need to train your managers? Contact the Tameside, Oldham, Glossop MIND Training team, based in Ashton under Lyne on tel. 0161 330 9223 or email: training@togmind.org

ACAS Learning on Line is currently offering free elearning courses on topics including bullying and harassment, conflict management, managing people and mental health awareness for employers. Click here to find out more.

Other sources of information

To find out more about the research carried out on the effect of line management on stress, read this seven-page summary produced by the CIPD, Investors in People and the HSE by clicking here.

Strong Leadership, Effective Communication and Supportive Absence Management

Please return to the main menu, go to Leadership and Absence Management.

Strengthening your Mental Health and Wellbeing Policy

A workplace, which is good for mental health will have a suite of effective and supporting policies in place, covering the following areas: bullying and harassment, grievance and discipline, communication, equality, whistle-blowing and return-to-work.

You can take several approaches to strengthening your existing mental health and wellbeing policy. One such approach is to incorporate specific prevention, recovery and return-to-work actions into your policy.

Prevention

This is about preventing the workplace from being a factor in causing or contributing to poor mental health.

Preventative action could include the following:

  • Allowing flexible working
  • Reducing the risk of stigma through education and training
  • Providing information on local mental health services
  • Establishing good employer/ employee communication
  • Having a managers’ training programme in place
  • Carrying out stress risk assessments
  • Having an ongoing Workplace Wellbeing Programme, perhaps including mindfulness, yoga and an Employee Assistance Programme

Recovery

This is about supporting a colleague who has suffered from a mental health condition, back to work.

Recovery actions could include:

  • Agreeing a specific return to work action plan
  • Working with medical and occupational health professionals to ensure that the worker can experience a successful return to work
  • Agreeing how the colleague will be contacted while off sick
  • Tackling the employee’s workload and managing any concerns with the worker’s immediate colleagues during the sickness absence period
  • Using a Wellness Action Plan

Return to Work

This is about making sure that the plan covering the initial period of returning to work is helpful to the recovery process.

Actions could include:

  • Discussing all aspects of the return with the employee, including a return to work plan, how to inform colleagues and how the line manager will be briefed about the mental health condition
  • Discuss how occupational health can help
  • Put in place the workplace adjustments, which were agreed with the employee.

Acknowledgement: This approach is based on the Mental Health and Employment Guides, 2012 from The Commission for New Economy, Manchester. Delete link

This is a sample stress at work policy from the Health & Safety Executive – another approach.