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Mental health support in the workplace

Mental health has been at the forefront of wellbeing discussions for some time now and, following on from World Mental Health Day on 10th October, this topic is as important as ever. Employers are now beginning to consider more than ever how they can help employees with not only their physical wellbeing, but their mental wellbeing too.

DWP have recently announced that there will be a £122 million national roll out for vital NHS services to help employees manage mental health issues such as stress, anxiety and depression with aim of finding, staying in or returning to work.

The scheme aims to bring therapists and employment advisers together to help individuals with mental health problems to find work which is suited to them. There is strong evidence that being in work improves people’s mental health and by supporting more people into work this will improve the labour market and increase individual success and career progression.

NHS England Therapists and employment advisers already work together in 40% of the country. However the service is being extended nationally with recruitment and training of around 700 employment advisers so that up to 100,000 people can receive the combined offer each year from 2024 to 2025, accessing the support to start, stay and succeed in work.

The charity Mind has recently reported that 1 in 6 workers suffer from mental health problems which can affect how employees perform. If employers fail to consider the effects of mental health in the workplace this can be extremely costly to employers as 1 in 5 employees state they have called in sick when experiencing stress at work and 42% of employees have considered resigning when under stress at work.

So, once an individual has found work what else can employers do to support and improve mental health to retain their staff?:

Create a culture which supports staff to be open about their mental health – it is crucial that managers have the training and support available to them to feel comfortable broaching mental health topics in order to support their team. Employers should invest in training their staff to have such conversations.

Consider the benefits which are offered – could you be doing more to promote mental and physical wellbeing at work? It is proven that physical and mental wellbeing are linked in more ways than we would first assume. There are many benefits which employers could offer to employees which include free health check services, health insurance and cycle to work schemes. If you are a small business you could help employees by simply creating a community for employees to ‘walk and talk’ on lunch breaks.

Provide access to useful tools – there are many free guides and resources which can be useful to employees who are struggling. As an employer you may want to consider creating a section on the intranet or on a notice board for where employees can look for help such as online charities and help lines.

It will be interesting to see how the success of the £122 million investment impacts employment rates and the ability for employees to remain in work. However, each employer also has a part to play as ultimately a healthier workforce is a happier workforce and in turn this creates a more successful business. Fewer employees will be out of the business on sick leave and there will be increased focus and productivity. By investing in your people, you are ultimately investing in your company and creating a more positive brand.

A woman with her head buried into her hands feeling workplace stress.