Studies show that 1 in 7 of the working population will experience mental health problems at work. However, creating a workplace culture where mental wellbeing plays a central role can significantly reduce the prevalence of mental health due to workplace stressors. A better working environment can also boost motivation, team morale, and loyal employees.
The legal matters of mental health in the workplace
A winning workplace culture is certainly in the best interest of the employer too, not least because wellbeing problems cost UK businesses over £42billion annually while the majority of UK workers feel that their employer could do more. However, it is crucial from a legal perspective too.
Several legal regulations are in place to support workers from a physical and mental perspective. As per the Equality Act 2010 and Disability Discrimination Act 1995, any worker experiencing ill mental health is entitled to reasonable adjustments that could improve their work life. Some examples include:
– Changing a work start or finish time to account for possible side effects of medication
– Working remotely when symptoms are at their worst so not to impact productivity
– Being exempt from work functions and events
It is crucial that those suffering must not be discriminated against in any shape or form. While the laws only cover workers who have a ‘substantial, adverse and long term impact on their ability to carry out everyday tasks’, advocating mental health for all employees is advised to create a safe working space.
What can employers do to support employee mental health?
Mental Health Awareness Week is a fantastic opportunity for employers to promote the importance of mental wellness in the workplace. The new levels of interest can also be used to get workers to sign up for a Mental Health First Aid course. By having several employees capable of identifying mental wellness issues and supporting colleagues through them, the workplace culture will improve.
You can encourage employees to eat well, get more sleep and exercise more in their daily lives, which are all proven to be mood boosters. Adding staff perks like gym memberships or weekly yoga classes can work wonders too. Inside the workplace, links between physical and mental wellness should be embraced by incorporating screen breaks, hydration, and other features. Above all else, creating an outlet, perhaps by working with a mental health expert, for employees to express themselves can really make a difference.
Making suitable moves to support anyone with ill mental health must be supported by an active effort to protect them from bullying, harassment, or other negative responses from colleagues.
In cases where you do not have the funding to support those moves, such as providing a suitable WFH setup, employers can check out the government-funded Access to Work scheme. This can help finance equipment, software, and more.