Yesterday, 10 October 2022, was World Mental Health Day and the theme, as set by the World Health Organisation, was to "'make mental health and wellbeing a global priority". Many employers marked the day by raising awareness of mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.
Whilst UK employers have a legal duty to protect the mental health and wellbeing of all employees, it also makes moral and commercial sense to do so. Many employers see employee mental health and wellbeing as a top “social” priority when it comes to their ESG strategies (ESG strategies incorporate the pillars of environmental, social and governance issues for responsible and sustainable businesses).
What practical steps can employers take to support employee mental health and wellbeing?
Here are three practical steps employers can include in their ESG strategies to support mental health and wellbeing following World Mental Health Day:
1. Remind employees what benefits and support are available to them
Many employers provide support such as Employee Assistance Programmes, and wider benefits. Make sure that benefits are advertised well and that employees know where to go and who they can talk to internally. If you have mental health champions, or mental health first aiders, make sure they have the latest information.
2. Train managers
Managers should be trained on the potential signs of poor well-being and social isolation, as well as how to handle mental health disclosures. Managers do not need to be mental health experts but they need to know how to identify mental ill health, as well as how to signpost and arrange support.
3. Obtain medical advice and consider reasonable adjustments at an early stage
There will be times when employers need to take detailed medical advice. Medical advice can be useful where an employee is on sick leave and reasonable adjustments are needed, where an employee is disabled, to enable the employee to return to work. Alternatively, an employee may be at work and need adjustments to enable them to remain working. Reasonable adjustments can be flexible and include:
- increased supervision or support by manager, buddy or mentor;
- debriefing sessions after particular tasks; and
- access to a mental health support or employment benefits.
For more information on managing mental ill health at work or on ESG, please contact Pip Galland, Employment Senior Associate at Burges Salmon (email@example.com). Pip is also Chair of the local mental health Charity, Bath Mind, which forms part of the national “Mind” federation.
We can all play our part in increasing awareness about which preventive mental-health interventions work and World Mental Health Day is an opportunity to do that collectively