The Health and Safety Executive believe one in four people in the UK will have a mental health problem at some point. Although these problems may not necessary be work-related, if you are worried about your own mental health, or the mental health of another individual at work it is important to address those issues.
What is mental health?
There is no simple way to define mental health. It is often described as the emotional or psychological well-being of an individual, but it is much more than that. There are a vast range of problems which fall under the umbrella of mental health problems including: depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder and panic attacks. For further information on mental health problems, we suggest visiting your local GP.
What is the impact of mental health in the workplace?
Research published by Opinium in the “Opening the Conversation: Mental Wellbeing at Work” report has found 53% of all UK workers have struggled at some point with their mental wellbeing.
Information provided by MIND has suggested more than one in five people agreed that they had called in sick to avoid work when asked about how workplace stress has affected them.
This has a dramatic financial impact on businesses with many employee’s taking time off from work to tackle their mental health problems. According to information provided by ACAS, the estimated cost of mental ill health to UK employers each year is between £33 billion and £42 billion.
Why do people not talk about mental health?
There is a perceived stigma around mental health, which has led to many individuals feeling unable to talk about mental health and a general lack of openness around the topic at the workplace.
The Opinium report has published other worrying figures:
25% of those who struggled with their mental wellbeing did not take any time off work as they did not feel their employer would understand
67% of those who have struggled with mental health have never told an employer
How is mental health protected?
Depending on the mental health problem the individual is suffering from, it may be defined as a “disability” under the Equality Act 2010. This would depend on whether the physical or mental impairment has a “substantial” and “long-term” negative effect on your ability to do normal day-to-day activities.
If the problem is defined as a disability and you suffer unfair treatment as a result of having the “disability” you may be entitled to bring a claim for disability discrimination. If you feel this is the case, contact us for an free initial 15 minute telephone consultation.
How can an employer help?
Tackling mental health in the workplace will be beneficial for employer’s as well as the individual in question. It will hopefully result in better attendance at work, improved morale and better performance.
According to a Guardian study, Britain is training a record number of “mental health first aiders” to help support mental health in the workplace.
We believe the best way to improve your company’s response to tackling mental health problems is by looking at the measures already in place. For further guidance on tackling mental health at work from an employer’s perspective, contact us today to arrange a free legal healthcheck for your business.
Whether you are an employer or an employee, our team of employment law specialists are happy to provide you with further assistance.
If you are an employer and you would like guidance on how to properly support employees with mental health problems contact us today or call us on 0330 221 0684 for advice or to arrange a free legal healthcheck.
If you are an employee looking for further guidance with a potential claim for disability discrimination, or any other employment law issue, contact us today or call us on 0330 221 0684 to arrange an free initial 15 minute consultation.
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