What should I know?
Each year 1 in 4 people experience a mental health problem. It is estimated that a total of 2.2 million working days are lost every year through mental ill health in Scotland. This costs employers £1.2 billion. One third of all absences from work are due to stress related illness (only 14% are officially certified).
Recognising a mental health problem early and providing support does not cost a lot and investment in current employees is less expensive than recruiting and retraining new staff.
What should I do?
Workplaces can help to break down the stigma associated with mental health problems by carrying out staff awareness campaigns, e.g. See Me, National Depression Awareness Week, National Stress Awareness Day etc.
Interactive events can be used to promote positive mental well-being and make staff feel good about themselves and where they work. Examples include taster sessions for complementary therapies such as massage or physical activities such as yoga. But sometimes the more creative the better, for example reading groups, theatre trips or even a favourite feel good song competition can help to make staff feel happy.
Many workplaces already have policies in place that can support staff, e.g. flexible working arrangements or carers leave. Review existing practices and implement a policy combining all the aspects of this section.
Line managers and the way they work can be very important to the mental health of your workplace. Provide them with training to ensure they are aware of the extent of mental health issues and the policies and procedures they should follow.
- Conduct a stress risk assessment
Stressors in the workplaces such as too much work to do, poor communication and lack of support can lead to staff feeling stressed. The HSE recommends that an assessment is made of these issues and an action plan put in place to reduce the risks to staff.
- Signpost staff to support agencies
A significant proportion of your staff will experience mental health problems each year. Identify local support agencies and signpost staff to them, e.g. NHS services, stress centres, Breathing Space etc.
Where can I get help?
Stress Risk Assessment
Health and Safety Executive - www.hse.gov.uk/stress/index.htm
Health Scotland - www.healthscotland.org.uk/workpositive