According to the BBC Scotland Health Correspondent, it is estimated that more than one in three people are affected by a mental health problem each year, with the most commonly reported illnesses in Scotland being depression and anxiety. In addition it has been found that on average 1 in 3 GP appointments relate to a mental health problem (BBC, 2016).
In light of this, it is important that as an employer you have an understanding of mental health and the potential impact this could have on employees, with the aim of creating a mentally healthy working environment.
A recent study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) concluded that mental ill health can have a significant impact on organisations in the following ways:
- 37% of sufferers are more likely to get into conflict with colleagues
- 57% find it harder to juggle multiple tasks
- 80% find it difficult to concentrate
- 62% take longer to do tasks
- 50% are potentially less patient with customers/clients (ACAS, 2018)
However for many employees who suffer from a mental health problem, work can be a lifeline and it has been proven that being employed can have a positive impact on mental health (BBC, 2016).
When employees feel good about themselves and feel supported by their employers they are more likely to work productively, interact well with others and make a valuable contribution to the workplace (ACAS, 2018). However this can only be achieved through creating and nurturing a mentally healthy working environment and supporting those who suffer from mental health problems (See Me Scotland, 2018).
The following steps can be taken by employers to help promote the mental health and wellbeing of their workforce and create a supportive environment:
- Lead by example: the senior management team should implement and apply policies, training and a culture of openness relating to mental health issues. For employees suffering from mental health, reasonable adjustments should be made to working conditions to accommodate for this.
- Awareness of Policy, Practice and Law: employers have a legal and moral obligation to avoid discriminating against staff specifically because of their mental health. Reasonable adjustments by altering working conditions to help employees with a disability, including mental health problems is a legal requirement.
- Providing training: the management team in particular and by extension all employees should have an awareness of mental health and be able to spot the signs. Empowering managers to have the confidence to open up a supportive discussion about mental health can stop stigma and discrimination before it starts.
- Understanding stigma: having an understanding of stigma can help to avoid it. Stigma is when an employee (or potential employee) is perceived as being different because of their mental health problems. If they are treated differently, then this may also be seen as discrimination.
- Nurturing a culture of support and understanding: simply asking someone if they are okay is a great way of supporting employees in the workplace and being able to recognise signs of when someone is struggling. Sometimes a bit of “time out” or some flexibility is all that is needed (See Me Scotland, 2018)
An organisations ability to ensure the health and well-being of their workforce relies heavily on the support of the senior management team within the business. The implementation of policies and procedures and the adoption of the steps listed above can set the tone, allowing management to lead by example in promoting a mentally healthy working environment
If we can help you with this or any other HR issue, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our HR Team at HR Services Scotland Ltd on 0800 069 8970.
For more information about the services that we provide at HR Services Scotland, please get in touch with us here.