You can’t ignore the media spotlight on mental health over the past few years, especially in the workplace where employees working conditions can have a significant impact on their mental health and also impact their ability to perform well in their role.

With some of the largest companies in the UK calling on the government to update health and safety legislation, meaning employers would be required to train their staff on mental health issues, the time is right to take a look at your business and how you deal with this pertinent issue in-house.

The statistics are quite shocking (data from

  • 1 in 6.8 people will experience mental health problems in the workplace.
  • Women in full-time employment are nearly twice as likely to have a common mental health problem as full-time employed men (19.8% vs 10.9%).
  • Evidence suggests that 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions.
  • Nearly half (43.4%) of adults think that they have had a diagnosable mental health condition at some point in their life (35.2% of men and 51.2% of women).

It is not unusual for SME’s not to have the relevant policies and procedures or the relevant experience in place to manage mental health issues in the workplace as more often than not, HR duties will fall on the office manager or senior management. Also, having little or no experience of mental health issues and how to deal with staff who may be suffering could have serious financial implications for the business if not dealt with correctly.

The law governing stress has evolved from case law rather than legislation.  However, examples of legislation which have a potential impact on this area include:

  • the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
  • the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (SI 1999/3242)
  • the disability discrimination provisions of the Equality Act 2010

The Fatal Accidents Act 1976 has also been used to claim compensation in cases of stress-related suicides by employees. The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 has also been used in some extreme cases of harassment leading to stress and depression.

So what can you do as an SME to create a positive and supportive mental health environment within your business?

  1. Create policies and procedures on how your business will support and manage staff who are suffering from mental health issues.
  2. Create an open, non-judgmental environment in which employees feel safe to disclose their health issues without repercussion.
  3. Train senior managers on mental health issues, what to look out for and how to support their team.
  4. Incorporate mental health awareness into your marketing program.

I will be running 1.5 hr workshops for senior staff and managers over the coming months on how to recognise mental health issues in the workplace and what you can do to support your staff if these concerns arise.

Please contact me if this is something you would like to discuss further –