A review, “Thriving at Work” (available here) on mental health at work has been recently published.
The review was commissioned by the Prime Minister and its authors, Lord Stevenson and Paul Farmer (Chief Executive of Mind) believe that the UK is facing a mental health challenge at work which is much larger than they had thought. According to their research, 300,000 people with a long term mental health problem lose their jobs each year, around 15% of people at work have symptoms of an existing mental health condition and there is an annual cost to employers of between £33 billion and £42 billion.
The Review (in summary):
- Sets out a ten year plan which aims to;
- change the way that mental health is perceived and understood;
- ensure that employers can assist employees with a mental health condition; and
- reduce the proportion of people with a long-term mental health condition who leave employment.
- Makes 40 recommendations, including:
- all employers should adopt certain mental health core standards;
- public sector, and private sector employers with over 500 employees, should take additional steps (as set out in the review);
- employers should be encouraged by legislation to report publicly on their workforce’s mental health; and
- professional bodies should implement training and support measures for their employer members.
- Recommends employers implement the following mental health core standards:
- Produce, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan that promotes good mental health of all employees, and outlines the support available for those who may need it;
- Develop mental health awareness among employees by making information, tools and support accessible;
- Encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling;
- During the recruitment process and at regular intervals throughout employment, offer appropriate workplace adjustments to employees who require them;
- Provide employees with good working conditions, and ensure they have a healthy work-life balance and opportunities for development;
- Promote effective management to ensure that all employees have a regular conversation about their health and well-being with their line manager, supervisor or organisational leader and train and support line managers and supervisors in effective management practices; and
- Routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing by understanding available data, talking to employees and understanding risk factors.
The authors of the review believe that these standards can be adopted across all workplaces at little or no cost and calls on trade unions, industry groups, professional and regulatory bodies to help with the implementation of these standards. The review also notes that there is a significant role for NHS to support workplace mental health by ensuring support is accessible, high quality and fits around work.
This review sets out very clear business reasons for managing mental health in the workplace. Considering whether to adopt some, or all of the recommendations for employers in this report is a sensible step for businesses wishing to support their staff and reduce the costs associated with mental ill health issues in the workplaces.