The Impact of Poor Mental Health in the Workplace
The largest causes of sickness absence for our country’s workforce are depression, stress, and anxiety. Mental illness costs UK businesses around £35 billion every year. This equates to:
£10.6 billion lost to sickness absence
£21.2 billion in reduced productivity
£3.1 billion in substituting employees members who vacate their roles due to mental illness
One in four people in the UK will have a mental health problem at some point. While mental health problems are common, most are mild, tend to be short-term and are normally successfully treated, with medication, by a GP.
Mental health is about how we think, feel and behave. Anxiety and depression are the most common mental health problems. They are often a reaction to a difficult life event, such as bereavement, but can also be caused by work-related issues.
This guidance talks generally about work-related stress but where such stress is prolonged it can lead to both physical and psychological damage, including anxiety and depression.
Work can also aggravate pre-existing conditions, and problems at work can bring on symptoms or make their effects worse.
Whether work is causing the health issue or aggravating it, employers have a legal responsibility to help their employees. Work-related mental health issues must to be assessed to measure the levels of risk to staff. Where a risk is identified, steps must be taken to remove it or reduce it as far as reasonably practicable.
Some employees will have a pre-existing physical or mental health condition when recruited or may develop one caused by factors that are not work-related factors.
How employers can support people with mental health conditions
In 2017, the government commissioned Lord Stevenson and Paul Farmer (Chief Executive of Mind) to independently review the role employers can play to better support individuals with mental health conditions in the workplace.
The ‘Thriving at Work’ report set out a framework of actions – called ‘Core Standards’ – that the reviewers recommend employers of all sizes can and should put in place:
Produce, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan that promotes good mental health of all employees and outlines the support available for those who may need it.
- Develop mental health awareness among employees by making information, tools and support accessible
- Encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling, during the recruitment process and at regular intervals throughout employment, offer appropriate workplace adjustments to employees who require them
- Provide employees with good working conditions and ensure they have a healthy work life balance and opportunities for development
- Promote effective people management to ensure all employees have a regular conversation about their health and well-being with their line manager, supervisor or organisational leader and train and support line managers and supervisors in effective management practices
- Routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing by understanding available data, talking to employees, and understanding risk factors
The core standards have been designed to help employers improve the mental health of their workplace and enable individuals with mental health conditions to thrive.
How mental ill health and work-related stress can go together
Work-related stress and mental health problems often go together and the symptoms can be very similar.
Work-related stress can aggravate an existing mental health problem, making it more difficult to control. If work-related stress reaches a point where it has triggered an existing mental health problem, it becomes hard to separate one from the other.
Common mental health problems and stress can exist independently – people can experience work-related stress and physical changes such as high blood pressure, without having anxiety, depression or other mental health problems. They can also have anxiety and depression without experiencing stress. The key differences between them are their cause(s) and the way(s) they are treated.
Stress is a reaction to events or experiences in someone’s home life, work life or a combination of both. Common mental health problems can have a single cause outside work, for example bereavement, divorce, postnatal depression, a medical condition or a family history of the problem. But people can have these sorts of problems with no obvious causes.
Mental Ill Health, Stress and the Management Standards
Although stress can lead to physical and mental health conditions and can aggravate existing conditions, the good news is that it can be tackled. By taking action to remove or reduce stressors, you can prevent people becoming ill and avoid those with an existing condition becoming less able to control their illness.
HSE’s Management Standards approach to tackling work-related stress establishes a framework to help employers tackle work-related stress and, as a result, also reduce the incidence and negative impact of mental ill health.
The Management Standards approach can help employers put processes in place for properly managing work-related stress. By covering six key areas of work design you will be taking steps that will minimise pressure, manage potential stressors and limit the negative impact that the work could have on your employees.
What are the Management Standards?
HSE’s Management Standards represent a set of conditions that, if present:
- demonstrate good practice through a step-by-step risk assessment approach
- allow assessment of the current situation using pre-existing data, surveys and other techniques
- promote active discussion and working in partnership with employees and their representatives, to help decide on practical improvements that can be made
- help simplify risk assessment for work-related stress by:
- identifying the main risk factors
- helping employers focus on the underlying causes and their prevention
- providing a yardstick by which organisations can gauge their performance in tackling the key causes of stress
They cover six key areas of work design that, if not properly managed, are associated with poor health, lower productivity and increased accident and sickness absence rates. The Management Standards are:
- Demands – this includes issues such as workload, work patterns and the work environment
- Control – how much say the person has in the way they do their work
- Support – this includes the encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by the organisation, line management and colleagues
- Relationships – this includes promoting positive working to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour
- Role – whether people understand their role within the organisation and whether the organisation ensures that they do not have conflicting roles
- Change – how organisational change (large or small) is managed and communicated in the organisation
As an employer, you can help manage and prevent stress by improving conditions at work. But you also have a role in making adjustments and helping someone manage a mental health problem at work.
We offer two QNUK Mental Health qualifications that have been developed to cover the key mental health conditions identified by NICE, The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
QNUK Level 1 Award in Mental Health Awareness (RQF) – Half Day Course
QNUK Level 2 Award in Mental Health at Work (RQF) – Full Day Course
These include research-based methods to reduce the impact or risk of mental health conditions:
- Definition of Mental Health and Ill Health
- Reducing the Stigma of Mental Ill Health
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Substance misuse
- Eating Disorders
- Reducing Stress
- Reducing the Impact and Risk of Poor Mental Wellbeing
- Principles of Effective Mental Health Conversations
We offer fully flexible courses to suit your business and staff availability with a choice of the following:
- in-house training at your business premises
- classroom training at our training centre in Staffordshire
If you would like to enquire about these courses or for more details call us on 01889 881887 or e-mail email@example.com.
Achieving ISO 9001 involves a logical steps starting with a review of the standard against the system you are currently operating and noting strengths and weaknesses. We can help you review this area to build a program of improvements to meet the requirements of ISO 9001:2015.
Achieving ISO14001 does not have to be hard work. With the right approach and with top management commitment we can guide you every step of the way to ensure that your procedures are fully compatible with the requirements of the standard.
QSC Consultancy can offer a full Health & Safety System compliant with ISO 45001 the Occupational Health & Safety Management System. This system will assist you in managing Health & Safety Risks and facilitate legal compliance.
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