Managing mental health in the workplace

    With increasing numbers of people suffering from mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, mental wellbeing is becoming a serious priority for UK employers

    Cardinal Clinic, the only independent mental health clinic in Berkshire, Brighter Berkshire, a community-led, year-long mental health initiative and the IoD Berkshire, the UK’s longest-running organisation for professional leaders, have joined forces to help raise awareness of the importance of recognising mental health issues and supporting employees dealing with them.

    Christine Harrington, hospital director at Cardinal Clinic, explained: “Mental health issues are more prevalent than ever and the stigma associated with them means that many employees are reluctant to speak to their employers about the challenges they face. It’s vital that companies start to look at how they deal with their employees’ wellbeing, not just physically, but emotionally as well and the fact that the IoD is working with us to encourage its members to take mental health issues seriously is a sign that progress is being made.”

    Brighter Berkshire and Cardinal Clinic have offered the following practical advice to companies looking to improve their approach to supporting their staff regardless of the size of the business.

    Getting started:

    • Send out memos to staff on the importance placed on mental health by the company.

    • Disseminate promotional information on key mental health topics (stress, depression, anxiety, alcohol issues etc).

    • Be open at team meetings about mental health and workplace stress and encourage group discussion.

    • Engage in fundraising events to demonstrate awareness.

    • Ensure board-level discussions about the company set up to help staff with mental health problems and an assessment of whether the company is adequately resourced to meet its goals regarding this matter.

    Next steps:

    • Develop and promote a clear policy to help guide staff through what happens if they develop a mental health condition.

    • Audit adherence to the policy and share results with staff so all parties can develop a shared responsibility. 

    Long-term commitment:

    • Training for staff to promote good mental health.

    • Training for managers and human resources departments in supporting staff with mental health problems. 

    • Access to appropriate resources, such as occupational health, employee assistance programs, etc.

    Susan Elliott, IoD Berkshire chairman, said: “Mental Health is a subject currently at the core of most businesses. In the modern world, the old definition of ‘health and safety’ looks increasingly out of date. A workforce healthy in both body and mind is a more productive workforce, and business leaders have a huge part to play in creating a more open culture around an issue which touches so many of us.”