In full support of mental health awareness week (last week), this blog will look at how, as employers, you can support employees suffering with a mental illness and to promote positive wellbeing in the workplace.

First let’s just briefly set the scene: someone goes on a snowboarding holiday, comes back with a broken leg, they are signed off work for recovery, until they are fit to work again. No questions asked. This should be the case will all illnesses, even invisible ones. Yet sometimes it is not, still even now. Mental illnesses are just as debilitating, if not even more dangerously so, to an individual and should not be ignored and recovery time to feel better should be provided. According to a recent HSE report (Health & Safety Executive Report) “Work-related stress, depression or anxiety accounts for 40% of work-related ill health and 49% of working days lost, in 2016/17” – these stats emphasise the severity of the issue. As employers there are small, practical changes the workplace can make to help those suffering with an invisible illness. In turn, reducing workplace absences.

Recruitment

Starting from the beginning, ensuring that the job design and job descriptions are accurate, and that time is taken to successfully recruit the suitable candidate. Make sure they are aware of the responsibilities and expectations are mutual between employee and employer.

Policy & Awareness

Within the employee handbook include a ‘Mental Health Policy’ which clearly outlines the businesses commitment. This will inform employees of their rights and manage expectations for all involved.

Creative solutions

If you have an employee that has informed you they are suffering with a mental illness, support them and be creative in your solutions. As noted in your policy; consider flexitime, the working environment, more regular 1:1 catch up meetings, an allocated ‘safe space’ to store medication and the possibility of easing back into work if somebody is returning to the company following a period of absence.

Regular reviews

Having an effective appraisal programme in place provides you with a way of monitoring an employees progress and more importantly inputs a time for a manager to sit down 1:1 with them and have a review, talk and listen, possibly spotting any early signs. Communicating effectively with your employees is vital to their wellbeing and in-turn improves motivation and productivity.

Seeking support

Mindful Employer is an initiative set up in conjunction with NHS. Its aim is to provide support and resources to those employers whom have queries or questions regarding mental health in the workplace. It’s created by employers, for employers. The charity MIND also have a wealth of information on supporting employees with mental health issues and additionally can run training courses to support employers further.

We hope you’ve found this post interesting, if you have any questions regarding it or would like to discuss anything further, please do get in touch with us at CitrusHR Consulting, call us on 0844 854 6704 or email us at info@citrushrconsulting.com.