Mental Health Awareness Week – What Role Businesses Should Play In Employee Mental Health

Mental health has become one of the biggest challenges for employees and employers over the past year. Many workers struggle to manage an evolving workspace in a global pandemic, and employers must prioritise their staff's mental health to avoid a decline in work productivity and prevent burnout.

Employee wellfare

If an employee has a mental health issue, the employer must take the matter seriously. It is a good idea to talk to each employee and ask whether they need any additional support at work.

There are many forms of mental health issues, and each case is valid. A problem may approach suddenly, maybe due to specific events in an employee's life, or it could be built gradually over time.

You may find some people commonly struggle with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, or stress (this is not classified as a medical condition but may still have a severe impact on wellbeing). Mental health impacts also cause other issues such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia; however, deem to be less common than the others.

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It's the law for employers to provide a duty of care to every employee; this means that an employer must give every employee a reasonable amount of support to ensure their staff's health, safety, and wellbeing. Employers must ensure that the working environment is always safe, protect their staff from any discriminative behaviour and regularly carry out risk assessments.

It is against the law to discriminate against someone in the workplace with a disability. Mental health issues can be considered as a disability under the law. This matter only applies when it creates a substantial adverse effect on the life of an employee. For example, this may stem from physical capabilities. It is against the law to discriminate against an employee if they regularly cannot focus on a task or take them longer. It is also considered a disability under the law if their mental health affects their ability to do their normal day-to-day activities, such as interacting with people, sticking to deadlines, or following instructions.

Mental health issues can be considered as a disability even if there are not any physical symptoms. Employees must not discriminate against anybody in the workplace because of their disability, and they must consider making reasonable adjustments to make the employee feel as comfortable as possible.

Mental health awareness

An employee needs to carry suitable adjustments even if the issue is not a disability. Employee welfare encourages change to a person's working arrangements, or duties could be an example of tackling mental health issues in the workplace. Allowing people who require extra support may need additional rests or working with them each day to help prioritise their workload.

Mental health is essential. It is also important to openly talk about it too. Creating a comfortable environment where employees feel they can speak openly about mental health encourages problems to dissolve, decreasing levels of time off work and improving morale in the office.

Creating a supportive environment where employees feel they can talk about mental health openly develops a sense of understanding. Additionally, employers could help by treating psychological and physical health as equally important. Rather than encouraging staff to eat healthily and do their daily dose of exercise, it may go down well if individuals are encouraged to practice meditation or wellness exercises relating to the mind.

Employers could also make sure that employees have regular one-to-one meetings with their managers, giving them a chance to talk about any problems. Finally, encouraging positive mental health, such as arranging mental health awareness training, workshops, or appointing mentors, will help diminish the sense of loneliness and ensure that person with the additional requirements does not have to do it alone.

Mental health heart

For more information on how you can define how your employees work best, click here.