Mental Health at Work
Around 15 out of every 100 people at work have an existing mental health condition. It is in the best interest of the employers and employees to do what they can to help create healthier workplaces and give people the tools to manage their own and other people’s mental health better. When employers support their workers’ mental health more, the costs to employers reduce. (Department of Work and Pensions, 2017).
If we work under the premise that we all have mental health, but move between different states of mental health: healthy, coping, struggling and unwell, someone could have a serious mental health condition but, with the appropriate support, they can be healthy at work.
What is an employer’s legal responsibility?
Employer’s have a legal duty to protect employees from stress at work by doing a risk assessment and acting on it. (HSE n.d.)
The HSE state that there are six main areas of work design which can effect stress levels:
By addressing each of these areas in the risk assessment competently, you should be able to manage stress in the workplace.
Peritus Health Management are able to support you with this risk assessment if required.
How to help someone with an acute mental health problem at work
Stress affects people in different ways – one person’s challenge is another person’s stress. Factors such as levels of understanding, skills, experience in their work can affect whether they can cope or enjoy their job. Personal issues, including how they see themselves and the pressure they apply to themselves, as well as pressure from family and friends are all accumulative and can together lead to someone struggling or becoming unwell.
Whether short-term episodic or long-term single episodes, Occupational Health professionals should be involved in assisting the organisation as well as the individual in the management of the absence.
Peritus Health Management’s Occupational Health Advisers can:
- ensure that the individual is receiving the care to which they are entitled,
- identify adjustments that can be made to duties, hours and equipment to optimise attendance,
- remove barriers to rehabilitation,
- provide professional independent advice on fitness for work,
- assess the prognosis and progress whether back in work, or during extended absence and
- arrange a referral for talking therapy, e.g. cognitive behavioural therapy, psychological support or counselling.
Good communication between the manager and the individual whilst they are absent from work due to sickness, especially with mental ill health, is strongly recommended even though at times it may be difficult. This will allow for the practical issues around sickness absence to be arranged and any worries relating to the job and pay can be addressed. This will also help to allay the social isolation and loss of confidence experienced by extensive sickness absence and offers the opportunity to discuss any rehabilitation options available that may be unknown to the individual.
It is important to monitor anyone returning from long-term sickness absence to ensure that they are coping satisfactorily at work. Whilst some will have recovered sufficiently and learned new personal skills during their absence, there will be others who will continue to experience difficulties and the risk of illness recurring is high.
It is also recommended that clear rehabilitation goals are set with identified timescales either prior to the individual’s return or during the return to work interview. Whilst these goals may not be set in stone, the organisation and the individual need to be aware that a minimum level of performance will still be required at the end of the rehabilitation programme.
Want To Find Out More?
For more information about our work-related mental health services, contact us.
Published date: 4th April 2018
Last revision: 17th July 2019