What is mental health?
Mental health is just like physical health, we all have it and they both change throughout our life. The World Health Organisation describes mental health as ‘a state of wellbeing in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community’.
Mental health affects one in four people in their lives and employers should promote good mental health. Mental health is a major cause of long-term sickness and having the support from employers would help in their recovery.
Organisations like Mind and Rethink Mental Illness provides a breakdown of different mental health conditions and what signs to look out for. People will experience different symptoms depending on what condition they have.
Discrimination against people with mental health issues remains and will continue to remain in workplaces. A vast proportion of the workforce will face during their work life.
In the UK, disability discrimination in the Equality Act 2010, metal health issues can be classed as a disability. There are many conditions which qualify a person for this protection, providing there are long term effects (one year) to carry out normal day to day tasks. Mental impairments do not need to be clinically recognised to qualify as a disability.
The employer has a responsibility to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate their needs. It is always good practice for an employer to make appropriate changes for staff who have not been classed as a disability to support them in their work and working pattern.
How can you help staff with mental health at work?
Developing people’s managers skills
Good management can help prevent stress that is mostly commonly linked to mental health. Management should be in a position to promote health and wellbeing in a positive light. The CIPD’s latest health and wellbeing survey who are in partnership with Simplyhealth found a “slip in attention to employees’ mental and physical health. Seven in ten (70%) of HR respondents agree that employee wellbeing is on senior leaders’ agendas (down from 75% last year) and 60% believe that line managers have bought into the importance of wellbeing (down from 67% last year).”
Spotting early signs of mental health issues
Employers and managers should be able to recognise early signs of mental ill health. Early prevents issues from escalating, however, employers should not give advice about a mental health issue as they are rarely qualified to do so. There are websites such as Mind and Rethink Mental Illness that give information on potential signs of mental ill health.
Promote work-life balance
Working long hours is an unsustainable way of working and can take a toll on people. Employers and managers should take this into consider and help different between appropriate work life balance and personal life means staff will remain refreshed and productive.
Reducing the stigma around mental health and replace any myths they have, this will also hep staff in coming forward with any issues.
The Department of Health and Social Care have published a discussion paper and calls for evidence on what can be done to improve mental health and wellbeing.
The call for evidence is open to all for comment, although it is recognised that employers play a significant role.
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