Protecting employees from mental health adversity

Anxiety and depression has hit a record high amongst workers in the UK with one in six currently experiencing some form of mental health problem. This can have a big impact on businesses with more than 12.5 million working days lost in 2016/17 due to work-related stress, depression and anxiety disorders.

Mental health is now the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK so it may come as a surprise that three in 10 employees don’t believe that their employer provides enough mental health support. This support could be the key to reducing absence and should be a core consideration for employers aiming to build an effective employee wellbeing strategy.

The need for mental wellness to be considered is clear but the solutions are not always as easy to identify. Here are nine things for employers to consider including within their wellbeing strategy:

  1. Build a clear mental health policy – Building a policy with clear support pathways will ensure Managers know how to help employees when it’s needed most.
  2. Provide management training – Providing mental health training to managers will enable them to support employees in the right way. It will also help managers to identify when a staff member may be in need.
  3. Offer external support – Offering external help such as an Employee Assistance Programme can provide expert support to employees who are experiencing mental health issues.
  4. Introduce regular one-to-one catch ups – Ensuring Managers have regular one-to-one catch ups with their team will provide an opportunity for employees to ask for help when needed. This could be with a line manager, HR or an external party.
  5. Raise awareness of mental health issues – Running a mental health campaign could encourage open and honest discussions, improve the company culture and help employees identify when they need support.
  6. Introduce self-management technologies – Introducing a mental health app which provides prevention, screening and self-management exercises that are clinically proven to help employees to reduce their symptoms.
  7. Encourage feedback from staff – Monitoring employee’s mental wellbeing via a staff survey can help employers measure the effectiveness of their strategy and gain feedback on how to improve.
  8. Encourage breaks – Encouraging employees to leave their desks at lunchtime and take regular breaks from their screens can help reduce stress. Employers could start a lunchtime walking club, discourage eating at desks or introduce walking meetings.
  9. Start a social committee – Starting a social committee will help employees make friends who could provide a valuable support network and will also create opportunities for employees to have fun.
  10. Promote healthy living – Sleeping well, eating well and exercising can all have a positive impact on mental health issues. Offering wellbeing days or sharing resources could encourage employees to make a change which could have a positive impact on their mental health.

To find out more about supporting employees with mental health, read our eBook, ‘Understanding the importance of mental health in the workplace’.