Mental health in the workplace – let’s talk about it

‘STEP Challenge’, ‘Bike to work’ and ‘workplace sports teams’ are all well known workplace initiatives, designed to improve and look after our physical health at work. But what about our mental health?

Earlier this week some of the UK’s biggest businesses and law firms, including Royal Mail, PWC and WHSmith, signed an open letter in the Sunday Telegraph urging for changes in the law to give mental health the same status as physical health. The campaign, launched by Mental Health First Aid England, estimates that 15.4 million days a year are lost due to anxiety, stress and depression. A 2017 government commissioned-review found that the cost to the UK government could be as high as £99bn a year, with one in six British workers suffering from a mental health condition.

One of the proposed schemes is the introduction of mental health first aiders who would be equipped and trained to deal with early signs of mental health problems. This would mean that workers could talk to someone in confidence without fear of discrimination.

The Health and Safety Executive guidance was published recently and provides employers with advice on how to support employees experiencing a mental health issue. The above initiatives are something all businesses, big or small, should bear in mind going forward in order to support and improve mental health in the workplace.