In today’s dynamic work environment and competitive employment market, prioritising employee mental health is paramount to retaining staff and increasing productivity. As we navigate the complexities of modern life, mental health awareness has become increasingly important, not only for individuals but also for employers striving to create supportive workplaces. With Mental Health Awareness Week upon us, it’s an opportune moment to explore the resources available to employers seeking to provide mental health support for their staff.

Understanding the Landscape

Before delving into specific resources, it’s essential to grasp the broader landscape of mental health in the workplace. Mental health issues affect a significant portion of the workforce, and as employment law solicitors, we are regularly approached by employers looking to get advice on how to best support employees who have conditions like stress, anxiety, and depression. Recognising the signs and addressing these challenges proactively can foster a healthier and more productive workplace culture, putting you above your competition.

Legal Obligations and Best Practices

Employers have a legal duty to safeguard (as far as reasonably practicable) their employee’s health, safety and welfare whilst at work under the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974. Additionally, under the Equality Act 2010, disabled employees and workers are protected against discrimination in the workplace. Employers are often vicariously liable for the actions of their employees, so it is imperative that time and effort be invested in creating inclusive environments and providing training to employees (of all levels) to ensure this legislation is followed.

Employers should be aware that adhering to these legal frameworks isn’t just about compliance but also about nurturing a supportive workplace culture where employees feel valued and respected, helping your business secure and retain the best talent, and ultimately adding value to your business.

Key Resources for Employers

Mental Health First Aid Training:

Investing in mental health first aid training equips employees with the skills to recognise signs of mental distress and offer initial support. Whilst not currently compulsory for employers, organisations like Mental Health First Aid England provide comprehensive training programmes tailored for workplaces, empowering employees to become mental health allies.

Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs):

EAPs can offer a range of health and wellbeing support for employees. This can be done through confidential counselling and support services to employees facing personal or work-related challenges, including mental health issues. By partnering with reputable EAP providers, employers can ensure that their staff have access to professional support when needed, promoting early intervention and resilience. Charges for these services will vary from provider to provider.

Online Mental Health Platforms:

Digital platforms like Mindful Employer and Mental Health at Work offer a wealth of resources, including articles, toolkits, and training materials designed to enhance mental health awareness and resilience in the workplace. These platforms provide accessible and practical guidance for employers and employees alike.

Workplace Well-Being Initiatives:

Implementing well-being initiatives such as flexible working arrangements, mindfulness sessions, and mental health awareness workshops can foster a supportive and inclusive workplace culture. By prioritising employee well-being, employers demonstrate their commitment to creating a positive work environment where individuals can thrive.

Occupational Health Services:

Occupational health services play a crucial role in promoting employee health and well-being and are a fantastic resource for employers to aid the nurturing of employee health and wellbeing. It’s important for employers to have clear guidance and authority on the use of Occupational Health Services in the workplace in both their contracts of employment and sick leave policies to ensure Occupational Health Services can be utilised in your business to support both employees and employers.

Peer Support Networks:

In larger workplaces, establishing peer support networks or employee resource groups focused on mental health can provide a safe space for employees to connect, share experiences, and access mutual support.

Understand your mental health workshop LinkedIn post with the Wellbeing Service Norfolk & Waveney

External Support Organisations:

Collaborating with external organisations such as mental health charities like Norfolk and Waveney MIND and local support groups can broaden the range of resources available to employees.

From helplines to counselling services, promoting local services in your workplace may help educate your employees on the services available to them outside the workplace.

Lately, we have been getting support from the Wellbeing Service Norfolk & Waveney with different workshops, including How to Improve Your Sleep and Understand your Mental Health.

Embracing a Culture of Compassion

Ultimately, by embracing a culture of compassion and prioritising employee well-being, employers can create environments where individuals feel supported, valued, and empowered to thrive. By providing adequate training to all employees, taking a uniform, no tolerance approach to discrimination in your workplace and utilising the resources available to you as an employer, you can really make a change on the attitudes within your workforce.

As we mark Mental Health Awareness Week 2024, on the theme of “movement: moving more for our mental health”, even making one positive change (or movement) to your business can make a huge impact on the mental health of your workforce.

#MomentsForMovement
#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

Get to now Natalie Smith

Natalie Smith is an Employment Lawyer at Hansells Solicitors, based in Norfolk. With extensive experience in employment law, Natalie is dedicated to helping employers navigate complex legal matters and achieve positive outcomes. For further insights or to discuss your specific employment law concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact Natalie.

Follow Natalie on LinkedIn.