Promoting positive mental health in the workplace
Mental ill health costs employers in the UK £30 billion every year through lost production, recruitment and absence.
Promoting positive mental health in your workplace can therefore be hugely beneficial. Staff with good mental health are more likely to perform well, have good attendance levels and be engaged in their work. Additionally, taking steps to better support the mental health of staff can help to reduce the severity, duration and quantity of mental ill health in the workplace. It is, therefore, in an employer’s interests to:
• Improve mental health awareness in the organisation
• Tackle the causes of work-related mental ill health
• Create a workplace culture where staff are able to talk about theirmental health
• Support staff who are experiencing mental ill health.
ACAS have produced a step-by-step guide written for employers and senior managers which explains how employers should change their workplaces to promote positive mental health and well-being and encourage a productive workplace. It also provides information on where to go when further guidance and support are necessary.
It is broken down into 5 steps:
Step 1: Understand mental health
An employer that understands mental health is better able to support and encourage staff to be more open about their mental health. To fully understand mental health, an employer should:
• Recognise what mental health is and what mental ill health actually means
• Identify the causes of mental ill health in the workplace
• Recognise the stigma associated with mental ill health and consider how this can be removed from its workplace
• Know its legal obligations to staff.
Step 2: Make a commitment to improve mental health at work
Once an employer has decided to promote positive mental health in its workplace, it should make a commitment by:
• Developing a mental health strategy to change attitudes
• Creating a mental health policy to set out its values
• Ensuring senior managers champion awareness of mental health and fight to remove the stigma around mental health in the workplace.
Step 3: Identify ways to improve the workplace
An employer should identify how it could change its workplace to improve the mental health of its staff. In particular it should:
• Tackle the work-related causes of mental ill health
• Provide additional resources of support
• Work with trade unions and other employee representatives
Step 4: Educate the workforce about mental health
To successfully promote positive mental health, it is important that staff understand what mental health means and know what support is available for them should they experience mental ill health. An employer should therefore:
• Train all managers to deal with mental ill health
• Train all staff on mental health awareness to help them understand their own mental health and support the mental health of colleagues
• Continue to regularly talk about mental health.
Step 5: Where to go for more support
It is essential that employers, managers and staff are aware of what further resources are available for further support and information when required. In particular an employer should know:
• Where they and their managers can go for additional help and advice
• Where to encourage staff to go for additional help and advice.