8 practical ways to promote workplace mental health well-being

June 1, 2017

On the day (1 June 2017) that research has been publicised which suggests that public sector staff are more likely to take sick days off for mental health causes than employees in the private sector, our HR Partner, Ellie Garnett, suggests ways in which employers can help – and why it makes sense to do so.

By Ellie Garnett

Employee Wellbeing HR180.co.uk Mental Health Workplace


Research conducted by UK mental health charity Mind asked 12,000 UK employees about their mental health, finding that almost 1/2 of staff in the public sector took time compared with just under 1/3 of private sector workers. The research suggested public sector workers were more likely to speak up if they were suffering mental health problems – currently police, fire, ambulance and search-and-rescue teams in England and Wales get government-funded mental health support which may be a reason for this result.

Of those with a mental health problem, 90% of public sector staff disclosed it to their employer, compared with 80% in the private sector. Paul Farmer, Mind’s chief executive, urges organisations to combat a “culture of fear and silence in the workplace” towards mental issues.

What’s the background?

One in six employees are currently experiencing mental health problems (according to www.mind.org.uk).

There is a strong relationship between an employee’s wellbeing and their performance and ability at work. Mental ill health is one of the leading causes of sickness absence. Of course, the cost of mental ill-health is not just financial. Yet 70 million work days are lost each year due to mental health problems in the UK, costing employers around £2.4 billion per year.

So, even if we didn’t care about our workforce (I am hoping this isn’t the case) this alone makes this a business issue.

Getting the culture right

This can be as simple as good management all the way through to getting the values right for the company.

Simple ways to support employees

One of the simplest ways to support employees is to ensure that the workplace moves away from stigmatising mental health.

How can this be achieved? Here’s some ideas:

  • Ensure mental health is discussed in meetings – both team and one to ones.
  • Check that the pressure of work is at an acceptable level to get the job done efficiently and effectively, and hasn’t turned into stress.
  • Make sure mental health and wellbeing are included in company policies.
  • Prevent bullying and discrimination in the workplace.
  • Make sure employees are empowered and are allowed to use the skills they have to do their work to the best of their abilities.
  • Promote a positive work life balance, encourage healthy behaviours at work, such as taking a lunch break.
  • Organise company activities – this is proven to strengthen relationships at work.
  • Provide a healthy environment for employees to work in, lighting, temperature, noise and layout.

(If you or anyone you know is suffering from mental health issues which need immediate attention please consult a health professional straight away.)

Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.

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