Employee Wellbeing - Promoting Mental Health at Work

Employee Wellbeing – Promoting Mental Health at Work

Taking a proactive approach and managing employee mental health is a fundamental business action.

Mental illness impacts 1 in 6 working people with 1 in 4 of the total population experiencing episodes at any one point in time.

It is reported that poor mental health costs UK businesses an estimated £42 billion per year through lost productivity, sickness absence, presenteeism and staff turnover.  In addition, the cost to society is an estimated £94 billion.

So what is mental health?

The World Health Organisation defines Mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realises his/her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to his/her community”  On the opposite side of the mental health spectrum is mental ill health. Mental ill health affects a person's thoughts, feelings and behaviours and creates an inability to carry out normal day to day activities and engage in satisfying personal relationships. There are differing levels of mental ill health, but the most common mental health disorders are anxiety and depression.

It is documented that mentally healthy people make the most of their potential, are productive in their work and positively impact the culture within an organisation. Whilst the same can be said for employees suffering mental illness, organisations may need to adapt the workplace environment or job role to ensure individual needs are fully met. Employees suffering mental illness can and do, positively contribute towards a successful working environment when their needs are met, in fact, 85% of employers said they did not regret hiring someone with a mental health condition.


Mental Health at Work

Stress is not a mental illness but if it is not managed effectively it can contribute to mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Stress is subjective and is a natural reaction to events or experiences in someone’s home life, work life or a combination of both but can be made worse by work. Under the Health and Wellbeing at Work Act (1974) organisations have a legal responsibility to protect the mental and physical health of their employees. In order to support the legislation the HSE have developed a set of standards to ensure employees are able to cope with the demands of their jobs; and that systems are in place to respond to any individual concerns. To learn more about the HSE management standards for stress visit our blog post.


Common mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression usually start from a single cause such as divorce or bereavement but can be made worse by work. Employers have a legal responsibility to ensure the mental health of employees is looked after whilst at work.

In 2017 the government commissioned an independent review of mental health at work (Stevenson/Farmer review 2017) to assess what support was needed for both employers and employees in managing mental health at work. Following the review, a set of 6 core standards for managing mental health at work were developed, these standards are:

·         Produce, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan

·         Develop mental health awareness among employees

·         Encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling

·         Provide your employees with good working conditions

·         Promote effective people management

·         Routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing.


Following these standards is key to tackling the stigma surrounding mental health at work and creating an inclusive working environment. Helping people to understand their own mental health and that of their colleagues through education and training is a key driver for breaking down barriers and encouraging open and honest conversation. 

Implementing the standards is good business practice and can have a positive effect on your business and its people.

If you are serious about tackling the stigma surrounding poor mental health and want to create an all-inclusive working environment that encourages individual differences, then please get in touch. We work with clients to build robust workplace health strategies that improve both the physical and mental health of employees and ultimately improve business profitability.


To see how we can help you create a great working culture please call us on  07954 414222 or email: hello@workwellhub.com