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Workforce wellbeing – Don’t treat employee’s mental health with a plaster!

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

Most people think of first aid of a different kind, where plasters and bandages help to heal problems. Mental Health first aid requires a different approach, one where employers work to ensure that their policies and procedures, support systems and approach to wellness work in concert with each other.

An independent Government review in 2017 into mental health in the workplace found that around 15% of those working in England present symptoms of a mental health problem. In 2017, the charity MIND reported that nearly 21 in 100 people will have suicidal thoughts across their lifetime. Employers are measurably impacted by this; the cost per year of mental health related absenteeism is £8 billion and presenteeism (attending work when unwell) is between £17 billion and £26 billion.

With these figures in mind employers can no longer ignore the benefit of properly and sympathetically addressing mental health in the workplace. This includes:

  • Having clear policies in place so that employees are aware of any processes that are likely to be engaged in the event of their absence from work;
  • Ensuring that those tasked with implementing absence management processes have training on the acceptable parameters and requirements of those processes – this should include an understanding that certain steps within those processes may need adapting (albeit within the confines of the process) so they are appropriate to any given situation;
  • Training managers on techniques for supporting employers suffering from mental health – this should cover how they might positively impact on an employee’s wellbeing whilst at work as well as supporting any employees both during periods of absence and on their return to work;
  • Implementing support chains for those tasked with managing the processes and employees’ wellbeing – the impact this responsibility can have on those tasked with supporting colleagues suffering from mental health issues is often overlooked. These support chains can include offering independent support to employees through access to confidential helplines and introducing mental health first aiders in the workplace.

At Wilson Browne Solicitors, the Employment team has experience in providing assistance and advice in relation to all forms of absence management as well as all other aspects of employment law. Call today on 0800 088 6004.

Jennie Jahina

Posted:

Jennie Jahina

Partner

Jennie is a Partner and Head of the Employment team.  A member of the Employment Lawyers Association, Jennie has 21 years’ experience and is an accredited CEDR Mediator. She acts for private sector organisations ranging from SMEs to multi-national companies and public sector organisations.