Mental Health in the workplace.

Mental health in the workplace

How does it impact on the employer and your employees

Here at Westcountry  HR we are keen to keep you up to date with current thinking in the complex world of employment advice.

We are seeing a rising number of employees signed off work with non-physical illnesses i.e. Stress, Depression and Anxiety, with lots of questions on how to deal with those individuals.

Firstly, everyone’s case will be different.  It’s important to understand the issues surrounding each case before taking steps to deal with it, with employers playing an important role in tackling the stigma attached to this serious illness. 

The business would be advised that by looking after employee’s well-being irrespective of whether the poor mental health derives from home of work, they would be looking after not only their profit margins but gaining a healthy reputation amongst their workforce.  Studies show that businesses that have good engagement and a contented workforce have a better productivity output.

The graph below is typical of an average workforce

If the mental health condition is addressed, then there is a high likelihood that employees will engage with you and become more loyal and productive over time.  Left unaddressed then the situation will worsen causing stress for others within your workforce as well as yourself and the employee with the condition.

Many of us are unsure how to address these situations.  Bringing the subject up with the employee in a sensitive, understanding and interested manner is the first start and as we’ve said each case will be different, however once the first conversation has been had its easier then to work out a solution.

This may involve taking time off work, advising the employee to seek medical attention or just having someone to talk to – being carful not to be the employees’ ‘crutch’.  When stress is high then we all become more vulnerable and our stress container is likely to ‘overflow’.  This can cause anything unusual/unacceptable behaviour to differing levels of anxiety or in the extreme someone becoming suicidal.

Mental health can become a disability under the Equality Act 2010.  For a mental illness to fall within the definition of disability, an employee has to show that:-

  • They have mental or physical impairment
  • The impairment affects their ability to carry out normal day to day activities
  • The adverse impact of the impairment is substantial; and
  • The adverse impact is long term (12 months or more)

Environmental factors in each business are different and can affect owners and employees.  Some of the pitfalls that its ease to fall into are: –

  • Long working hours
  • Lone working
  • Lack of job security
  • Unrealistic workloads
  • Change in the business
  • Negative relationships

The first step that can be taken, is understanding mental health what causes it and how it can be managed for the business health along with the individual’s health.

As this topic is extensive and covers a lot of ground Westcountry HR will be holding a Mental Health in the Workplace Workshop – if you are interested in attending then contact

Tel: 01626 367595