Mental Health in the Workplace: Thriving at Work

The Thriving at Work report released in 2017 makes it clear: organisations have a responsibility to the mental health of their employees.

The independent review into workplace mental health was commissioned by the Prime Minister in January 2017. Stevenson and Farmer’s report looked at how employers can provide better support to all employees. There are six ‘mental health core standards’ for organisations to adopt to provide a foundation to their approach to workplace mental health.

 

“…in many workplaces, mental health is still a taboo subject… opportunities are missed to prevent poor mental health and ensure employees who may be struggling get the support they need.” Paul Farmer, Chief Executive,  Mind

 

In a recent article, Personnel Today stated that from a common law perspective, “…the key focus is on whether or not the harm suffered was reasonably foreseeable and whether or not the employer took reasonable steps to avoid it.”

Putting into place occupational health schemes, and offering workplace counselling could be seen as ‘reasonable steps’ – however, historically, identifying and offering support to individual employees has not been easy. People may self-refer, but all too often they are suffering from ‘Brave Face Syndrome’, which masks the issue until it’s too late for them. In other cases, employees may be signposted to the schemes when they’re already ‘going under’.

Using the CARI initiative is a way of confidentially identifying all those employees who’s mental health is, or will be, suffering.

The organisation receives an anonymous road map of wellbeing across the board, showing exactly how employees are feeling overall. The report paints a picture of workplace mental health, and can be filtered by a range of criteria, including department, and length of contract.

Individuals receive a confidential personal wellbeing profile, with signposting to support services based on their levels of mental health. CARI is then able to target help directly to those who need it most, automatically offering confidential coaching sessions, or other support measures as appropriate and agreed.

 

“Our analysis indicates the potential impact poor mental health has on UK businesses and the wider economy. It should spur employers into recognising that championing mental health and supporting employees makes good business sense and that inaction comes at a demonstrable cost.”  David Sproul, senior partner and chief executive Deloitte UK

 

The release of the UK Government commissioned McCloud Report (2009) has led more and more organisations to realise just what positive mental health, and therefore employee engagement, can do for their businesses. If people’s levels of wellbeing are low, they do not positively engage with their employers. Organisations with high employee engagement will see twice net profit compared to those with lower engagement, along with 40% lower staff turnover.

Putting into place measures to support mental health in the workplace has become an essential, not just a ‘nice to have’

It is clear now that organisations have a responsibility, a duty, to care for the mental health of their employees. Wellbeing, and engagement, are no longer ‘frilly issues’. Legally, we must be looking after our people. And as doing so reaps huge benefits to the bottom line, really, it’s a no brainer.

 

What is your organisation doing to meet the six standards as laid out by Thriving at Work? Do you have an organisational strategy in place to meet your legal duty of care? Is the culture supportive of wellbeing and support initiatives – or is there an underlying Brave Face Syndrome epidemic?

 

References:

Thriving at Work: a review of mental health and employers (Stevenson and Farmer 2017) 

Engaging for Success: enhancing performance through employee engagement (MacLeod and Clarke 2009)

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