Employee Mental Health & Wellbeing


Introducing The Issue 

There are more people in the workplace with mental health conditions than ever before. The proportion of workers who can expect to experience some form of a mental health problem during their working lives continues to increase. Ensuring the good mental health and wellbeing of employees is not only the right thing to do, but also improves business morale and efficiency. 

Questions For Managers

Responsible 100 has developed a number of introductory questions to help you explore this important issue and your organisation's exposure to it. Please respond with as much relevant information as you can. These questions are available via this Google Form

Questions For Employees

Responsible 100 has developed a number of questions specifically for employees. They are designed to enable people working in the organisation to share their thoughts, observations and opinions on this important issue. Please respond with as much relevant information as you can. These questions are available via this Google Form

Benchmark Performance Statements

  • EXCELLENT - Focusing activities to improve the mental health and wellbeing of employees is fundamental to the business’s strategy. A holistic approach is taken, which includes policies and tools to improve mental health in a multitude of ways.
  • GOOD - The business is aware of the benefits of encouraging mental health and wellbeing, and is actively engaged in doing so.
  • OKAY - The business encourages mental health and wellbeing on an ad hoc basis, but not consistently and it is not prioritised over cost considerations; OR the business explains why employee mental health and wellbeing is not relevant nor material to it.
  • POOR - The business purposely does not take into consideration employee mental health and wellbeing, or have previously tried to do so but do not at all currently because it is more profitable otherwise.

Responsible 100 creates and develops detailed benchmarks on each of the issues we explore. Each benchmark identifies and defines different levels of performance as either POOR, OKAY, GOOD or EXCELLENT. A general statement describes those four performance levels in summary. Under each statement, examples of the sorts of policies and practices businesses are observed pursuing are listed, usually broken down into categories, e.g. Policies & Procedures; Target Setting, Measurement & Reporting; or Leadership, Advocacy & Culture. Some such lists include 50 or more examples. The above reveals the current summary statements only. The complete benchmarks are shared with those organisations which, through offering answers to the above questions - and any other relevant details about what they do, how and why - help to shape and improve the benchmarks on an ongoing basis.


Exploring The Issue

Like physical health, 'mental health' fluctuates and exists on a continuum. Because each individual has their own experience with emotional wellbeing, mental health conditions and mental illnesses, mental health varies widely from person to person.

'Mental illness', like any medical problem, is a diagnosed condition that affects one's emotions, behaviours, or relationships and could cause challenges to social functioning. With proper care, these symptoms can be mitigated and even treated, giving those with such illness the ability to function well in their daily lives.

On the flip side of mental illness, 'wellbeing' can be defined by the emotional, social and psychological ability of a person to be happy, attentive, and manage emotions while lacking behavioural problems that affect their lives. Anxiety, depression or violence may be signs of a lack of well-being.

There are more people at work with mental health conditions than ever before. In recent years, the proportion of workers that can expect to experience some form of mental health problem during their working lives has increased markedly. Mental health problems are a leading cause of illness and disability. Mental ill-health can have a significant impact in the workplace, whether a result of acute and severe ill-health or milder ill-health.

Untreated mental health, especially if combined with poorer physical health can lead to absenteeism, decreased work performance, negative attitudes and behaviours, and poor working relationships with colleagues and clients. There are also several important intersections to this issue. For example, women in full-time employment are twice as likely to have a common mental health problem compared to full-time employed men.

The "invisibility" of poor mental health and illness makes it difficult for people to identify it in themselves and others. Because mental health tends to be a sensitive and intimate topic, people affected are unlikely to feel confident to be forthcoming about their situation. Such discomfort in communication can strain the employee-manager relationship. Less than half of employees say they feel able to speak openly about stress with their line manager. One in four people even consider resigning due to stress. However, despite a push for transparency, in 15% of cases where the employee disclosed a mental health issue to a line manager, the employee became subject to disciplinary procedures, dismissal or demotion.

As such, well-being and mental health might also be considered through the lens of workplace diversity, and through organisational culture.

The Mental Health Foundation estimates that better mental health support in the workplace would save UK businesses up to £8 billion per year. Others, including the Centre for Mental Health, estimate costs to be several times higher. Additionally, Deloitte's analysis of investments made in improving mental health shows a consistently positive return on investment. There is a clear business case for organisations to equip themselves with a holistic approach to mental health in the workplace. Well-managed businesses are likely to understand the importance of promoting awareness and employing tools and processes to identify, address and prevent poor mental health caused or worsened by work.


Definitions

Mental HealthLike physical health, mental health fluctuates and exists on a continuum. Because each individual has their own experience with emotional wellbeing, mental health conditions and mental illnesses, mental health varies widely from person to person.

Mental Illnesslike any medical problem, is a diagnosed condition that affects one's emotions, behaviours, and/or relationships and could cause challenges to social functioning. With proper care, these symptoms can be mitigated and even treated, giving those with such illnesses the ability to function well in their daily lives.

UK Equality Act 2010The UK legislation that protects against discrimination against mental disability in the workplace and for other protected characteristics such as age, gender, sexuality, etc.

Wellbeing a person's emotional, social and psychological ability to be happy, resilient, attentive, and manage emotions while lacking behavioural problems that affect their lives. Anxiety, depression and/or violence may show a lack of well-being.

Links, News And Further Resources

ARTICLES

Three Quarters of Employees’ Careers Impacted by Mental Health, Report Finds - 30 June 2022

A new report done by Unmind found that three quarters of employees in the UK believe that mental health has impacted their careers, but a third of them do not expect to find support within their workplace. The report also found that many employees do not feel confident in their ability to help their coworkers when it comes to mental health.

Employers Are Saying They’re More Open Than Ever To Helping Employees With Mental-Health Issues. But Are Workers Happier Speaking Up? - 23 August 2022

This article looks at the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health in the workplace. Surprisingly, studies have found that the pandemic has actually encouraged workers to be more open about mental health in the workplace but employers still struggle to find the proper ways to address it.

Workplace Mental Health Programmes: The Role Of Managers - 11 October 2017

This study describes the important role that line managers play in identifying and intervening when a worker is experiencing poor mental health.

RESOURCES

Thriving At Work: The Stevenson/Farmer Review On Mental Health And Employers - 26 October 2017

This is the Stevenson/Farmer review that the Mental Health Core And Enhanced Standards are taken from. It also includes many recommendations for businesses, depending on what kind of business you are.

Mental Health In The Workplace | Factsheets | CIPD

This page gives you information about mental health issues in the workplace, as well as what you can do to support your employees’ mental health.

Mental Health Training Online And Face To Face

This is the homepage for Mental Health First Aiders England, which provides mental health training that can teach employees to be a point of contact for mental health within your own organisation.

VIDEOS

Workplace Mental Health - All You Need To Know (For Now) | Tom Oxley | TEDxNorwichED - 16 July 2018

This TED Talk goes over why mental health is so important in the workplace, as well as what employers and managers can do to address it.

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