According to the Mental Health Foundation, two thirds of British adults say they have suffered from mental illness at some point in their lives.
Despite the progress that has been made to destigmatise mental health issues, it is still the case that most people find it much less comfortable to discuss than physical health, particularly at work.
HR have an essential role to play, not only in framing appropriate policies, but in encouraging a mentally healthy work environment. With World Mental Health Day on the 10th October providing the ideal opportunity to revisit existing approaches, we’ve compiled a list of resources that HR teams might find useful.
Mind, the UK mental health charity, has put together a resource for employers with advice for creating a ‘mentally healthy workplace’. It includes recommendations on areas such as managing the workload you put on employees to minimise stress; training managers to identify the signs of mental illnesses and their risks; and providing adjustments for members of staff returning to work after a period of mental illness.
As part of their remit as an organisation that provides help and advice to employers and employees, Acas offers a variety of resources aimed at mental health in the workplace. These include a report on ‘The Management of Mental Health at Work’, as well as case studies on companies that have successfully implemented mental health initiatives. Acas has also worked with the NHS’s Mindful Employer initiative to create a comprehensive training package and advisory booklet on promoting positive mental health at work.HH
The World Health Organisation has created a mental health policy and service guidance package to aid HR professionals in their mental health training. This guide covers issues from a range of countries, giving an insight into the challenges faced by developing countries attempting to implement mental health policies. This is a comprehensive and invaluable resource for HR professionals in any industry.
Want to lead a shift in thinking in your own organisation? Led by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, Time to Change aims to change how we think and act about mental health. They’ve put together this communication pack specifically designed for people that want to bring about a change in attitudes towards mental health in the work place.
Taking the employee perspective
The truth is, that even when employers do all the right things, not every employee will feel confident talking to their manager, or a member of the HR team, about their mental health. Colleagues may also be reluctant to let ‘management’ know when a fellow worker seems to be struggling.
That’s why it’s important to consider what other steps you can take to make it easier for employees to seek help. This could range from offering independent counselling and advice through your company health scheme, to providing links to on your HR portal or company intranet to mental health services.
The NHS, for example, provides a range of self-help leaflets, as well as links to organisation that operate mental health helplines.
Are there any resources you’d recommend to organisations that want to improve their approach to mental health? Please share them with us.