Employment Law

Why to create a mentally healthy workplace

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Why to create a mentally healthy workplace

Having good mental health allows us to enjoy life and survive pain, disappointment, and sadness.  It is a positive sense of well-being and an underlying belief in our own, and others, dignity and worth.  Mental health influences how we think and feel about ourselves and others and how we interpret events. It affects our capacity to learn, to communicate and to form, sustain and end relationships.  It also influences our ability to cope with change, transition and life events.

Mental health problems are extremely common and one in four of us will experience a mental health challenge in any given year.  Even if you don’t suffer with a mental health problem yourself, it’s likely you will know someone that does.

Did you know?
  • Mental health problems such as stress, depression or anxiety account for around 72 million working days lost each year in the UK, the most of any health condition.
  • Mental health problems cost the UK economy at least £117.9 billion annually. The cost of mental health problems is equivalent to around 5 per cent of the UK’s GDP.
  • The annual cost of mental health-related presenteeism (people coming to work and underperforming due to ill health) is £15.1 billion or £605 per employee in the UK.
  • 60% of employees say they’d feel more motivated and more likely to recommend their organisation as a good place to work if their employer took action to support mental health and wellbeing.

Supporting mental health in the workplace is not just about complying with your legal obligations to avoid discrimination and make reasonable adjustments, employees who have positive mental health are more productive, and businesses who promote a progressive approach to mental health can see a significant impact on business performance, so it’s about good business too. There is a strong link between levels of employee wellbeing and performance.  Taking a positive, proactive approach to mental health at work can help you develop your employee and your organisation.

Benefits of investing in building mentally healthy workplaces that are inclusive and supportive:

  • Reduced sickness absence and associated costs.
  • Improving employee retention mitigating costs of recruitment and training.
  • Increases productivity.
  • Improves employee engagement.
  • Makes you stand out in a difficult recruitment market.
  • Has a wider societal benefit with the associated reduction in the financial and healthcare burden on public resources.

Since mental health is integral to how employees feel about their jobs, how they perform and how they interact with colleagues and clients, it is in an employer’s interests to:

  • Improve mental health awareness within the organisation.
  • Tackle the causes of work-related mental ill health.
  • Create a workplace culture where employees feel able to talk about their mental health.
  • Support employees who are experiencing mental health problems.
Author: Sarah Edwards, Senior Employment Law Solicitor at Howarths
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