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Mental health in the workplace. Tom Pollard Senior Policy and Campaigns Officer.

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Mental health in the workplace

Tom Pollard

Senior Policy and Campaigns Officer


Mind is the leading mental health charity in England and WalesWe have been campaigning for better mental health for all, for over 60 yearsWe have a network of 160 independent local Minds providing local servicesOur vision: we won’t give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets both support and respect

key points
Key Points

Mental health and work

-The current picture

Managing mental health at work

-Promoting wellbeing

-Tackling the work-related causes

-Supporting employees

How Mind can help

-Taking Care of Business campaign

-Information and resources

mental health and work
Mental health and work
  • The workplace can have a significant impact on mental health –
  • it can promote wellbeing or trigger distress:
  • Long hours and no breaks
  • Poor working environment
  • Unrealistic expectations or deadlines
  • High-pressure environments
  • Job insecurity or change management
  • Negative relationships or poor communication
  • Workplace culture
the current picture
The current picture
  • Conditions like anxiety, depression and unmanageable stress affect 1 in 6 British workers each year
  • Up to five million workers feel ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ stressed by their work, with half a million believing it is making them ill
  • Yet eight in ten employers have no mental health policy to help staff sustain good mental health
  • Mental ill health costs UK employers over £26bn every year as a result of absence, reduced productivity and staff turnover - £1,035 per employee
culture of silence
Employees feel unable to speak up about issues, for fear of discrimination - 1 in 5 workers have called in sick for stress, yet the vast majority of these (93 per cent) say they lied to their boss about the real reason for not turning up

Employers often fear broaching the subject, for fear of exacerbating distress or any legal consequences

If support is not put in place, problems can spiral into a health crisis – with increased costs for individuals and employers

Culture of silence

Employers need to take the first step in confronting the ‘elephant in the room’

benefits of a mentally healthy workforce
Specific reduced costs from avoiding absence, poor productivity and staff turnover

Crossover between ‘staff engagement’ and creating a mentally healthy workplace

Getting the most out of staff by fostering their potential and wellbeing rather than just pushing them hard

Can help to develop commitment and loyalty of staff

Benefits of a mentally healthy workforce

Creating a mentally healthy workplace benefits all staff

best practice for employers
Best practice for employers

Three-pronged approach

Promote wellbeing

Tackle work-related causes of mental health problems

Support employees with mental health problems

A comprehensive mental health strategy will create an open and supportive working environment

Senior leadership across the organisation is crucial

promoting wellbeing
Promoting wellbeing
  • Promote work/life balance
  • Flexible working where possible
  • Employee engagement and consultation
  • Promote positive working relationships
  • Good communication
  • Exercise provision and social activities
  • Peer support/buddy systems
  • Raise awareness of wellbeing
  • Promote open discussion
tackling work related causes
Tackling work-related causes
  • HSE Management Standards for Stress
  • Training for line managers
  • Regular one-to-ones
  • Managing workloads among staff
  • Stress risk assessments
  • Physical environment
  • Stress coaching and on-the-job support
  • Publicise internal and external support pathways
  • Communication with dispersed workers
supporting employees
Supporting employees
  • Facilitating and responding to disclosure
  • Tailored support:
  • Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP)
    • -Impact of mental health problem on performance
    • -Workplace triggers -Early warning signs
    • -Steps for the line manager to take
    • -Steps for the individual to take
  • Workplace adjustments
case study bt
BT operates support at three levels

Level one: promoting wellbeing and preventing mental distress - advice on intranet and training on soft skills

Level two: identifying distress and intervening early to prevent escalation - online stress risk assessment for employees and training for managers

Level three: range of support and treatments for people experiencing mental health problems – employee and manager produces an ‘advance directive’, identifying early warning signs and a plan of action and support

Case study: BT

Outcome: mental health sickness absence reduced by 30%

taking care of business campaign
Taking Care of Business campaign

Five year campaign to transform attitudes to mental health problems and mental wellbeing at work

Raising awareness, building relationships and providing tools to support employers and employees

Calling on employers to create open workplace environments, where people feel confident that disclosing a mental health problem will lead to support, not discrimination

phase 1 mentally healthy workplaces
Phase 1: mentally healthy workplaces

‘Reclaim your lunch break’ launch

Employers’ guide to mental wellbeing at work

15,000 people viewed our viral film

phase 2 disclosure
Phase 2: disclosure

Social media ‘elephant in

the room’ campaign

High-level business summit with employers

Disclosure tools for managers

phase 3 behaviour culture change
Phase 3: behaviour & culture change

Launches March 2013:

Aim: to help people manage mental health in the workplace and improve engagement levels

Focus on line managers and HR professionals who have influence in their organisations needed to change policies and attitudes

Series of free webinars and practical guides

Introductory guide ‘Mentally healthy workplaces’ out early March

Resources and training courses will follow throughout 2013…

how mind can help
How Mind can help

Free resources for employers

Free resources for employees

Mind Workplace – training and consultancy

Local Minds – counselling services, job retention services

Mind Infoline and Legal Advice Service

Information on Mind website

Get involved in the campaign!


To find out more: for information and resources on mental health at work for general information

Contact: 020 8215 2275