Tom Moyes: Encouraging conversations with employees around mental health

At any one time, one-sixth of the working age population of Great Britain experiences symptoms associated with mental ill health, and this causes around 40% of all days lost through sickness absence, according to the Mental health and work report published in 2008 by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

So why is it so crucial for employers to take advantage of days like Blue Monday (17 January 2022) to encourage open discussions about mental health with employees?

Most mental health conditions will fall under the legal definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010, as many of these conditions have a substantial and long-term impact on day-to-day life. Many employees living with a mental health concern will therefore be protected from discrimination and employers will need to make reasonable adjustments to support them in the workplace.

There are a number of ways that employers can encourage open discussions with employees about mental health. Producing, implementing and communicating a workplace mental health plan that promotes the good mental health of all employees and outlines the support available for those who may need it can be a great way to engage the workforce.

Employers should encourage open conversations about mental health so that any employees struggling feel listened to and valued. This can be further implemented at the recruitment process to showcase to potential new employees that their mental health is a key concern for the employer.

Promoting effective people management can be a great tool as this helps to ensure that all employees are able to have a regular conversation about their health and wellbeing with their line manager, supervisor or organisational leader. Training and supporting line managers and supervisors is crucial so that they can deliver effective management practices.

Tom Moyes is a partner in the employment team at Blacks Solicitors