Mental Health Awareness Week 2019
13th May 2019 to 19th May 2019 is Mental Health Awareness Week. Mental Health problems can affect and in fact are likely to affect us all in some way. This post explores the ACAS Guide ‘Promoting positive mental health in the workplace’. Read on for more information.
Step 1 – Understanding mental health
The first step of the guide provides useful information to help employers recognise what mental health is. For example, it sets out a depiction of the spectrum of mental health covering positive mental health, poor mental health and diagnosed mental health conditions. It also explains some of the causes of mental health issues, and deals with the obligations employers have towards employees when dealing with staff who are suffering with a mental health condition.
Step 2 – Making a commitment to improve mental health at work
The second step of the guide encourages employers to develop action plans to change people’s attitudes, to create a mental health policy setting out their values, and to ensure that senior managers are aware of mental health and fight to remove the stigma surrounding mental health within the work place.
To assist employers, ACAS provide guidance in terms of what should be included in a mental health policy. This is no doubt positive, but what stands out to me as being important is really encouraging staff to be open about their condition without fear of discrimination. Once staff feel confident enough to speak to their employer, they will be able to access the support they need.
Step 3 – Identifying ways to improve the work place
The third step of the guide stipulates that employers should identify how they can change the workplace to improve the mental health of their staff. This includes tackling the work-related causes of mental ill health, providing additional resources of support, and working with Trade Unions and other employee representatives.
This section starts off by giving examples of how to identify the causes of mental health conditions such as reviewing sickness data, staff surveys, 121s, etc….. It then lists some common problems such as unmanageable workloads, lack of control, poor relationships with colleagues, job insecurity etc…. and gives suggested ways of dealing with them. This section of the guidance is highly adaptable and so would work for either a large or small employer and is a great troubleshooting guide.
Step 4 – Educate the work force about mental health
The fourth step of the guide sets out the importance of all staff understanding what mental health actually means and what support is available should they need it. Therefore, under step four, ACAS stipulate that the employer should train all managers to deal with mental health, train all staff on mental health awareness to help them understand their own mental health and support the health of others, and continue to regularly talk about mental health. The suggested channels for regular discussion include team meetings, 121s, informal chats, awareness days, noticeboards, newsletters etc…..
Step 5 Where to go for further support
The fifth step of the guide is about ensuring that management know where they can go for help and advice and where they can encourage staff to go for additional help and advice. Links to a variety of websites are provided including www.mindfulemployer.net, www.time-to-change.org.uk, www.fitforwork.org, mind.org.uk etc……
ASSISTANCE FROM LINCSLAW
From my experience over the last 12 years, there appears to be a misunderstanding of mental health and a perception by employees that employers won’t understand them and will not support them. The ACAS guide is a welcome help in raising the profile of mental health within the workplace. However, it may take some time for the guidance to filter through. Therefore, in the meantime, if you or anyone you know is suffering with mental health issues and requires specialist employment law advice please do not hesitate to get in touch. You can call for a free no-obligation consultation on 01522 440512, email ContactUs@lincslaw.com or visit the website at www.lincslaw.co.uk.