Mental health in the workplace

Tools and resources to help you make positive improvements to mental wellbeing in the workplace.

8 August 2019

It is widely reported that mental ill health will affect one in four people at some point in their working lives.

People with mental health problems frequently suffer discrimination in the workplace and unemployment affects those with long-term mental health disorders more than any other group of disabled people.

The term mental ill health covers harmful levels of stress, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder (manic depression), psychosis, obsessive compulsive disorder and is often associated with drug and alcohol abuse and eating disorders (such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia).

The mental health charity Mind found:

  • 30 per cent of staff disagreed with the statement ‘I would feel able to talk openly with my line manager if I was feeling stressed’
  • 56 per cent of employers said they would like to do more to improve staff wellbeing but don't feel they have the right training or guidance.

As the largest public sector employer in the UK, the NHS can make a significant contribution to combating discrimination against people with mental health problems, not only benefiting the individuals concerned, but also having a positive impact on the diversity of the workforce and the experience the NHS is able to offer patients.

Mental health is one of the key reasons for sickness absence within the NHS. The Mental Health Foundation states that:

  • 1 in 6.8 people are experience mental health problems in the workplace
  • evidence suggests that 12.7 per cent of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions.

Ensuring staff are supported and cared for with their mental ill health is paramount. The NHS Health and Wellbeing framework encourages NHS organisations to ensure that prevention and self-management is available for all staff by taking the following actions.

Our infographic provides a range of up-to-date key statistics and facts about workforce mental wellbeing in the workplace. Employers can download the infographic to use within their organisation to raise awareness about the importance of positive mental wellbeing at work for NHS staff or as part of their business case to further the workforce mental wellbeing agenda at a strategic level with senior leaders.

Create a healthy and supportive working environment

  • The organisation’s culture does not stigmatise people with mental ill health and actively encourages people to maintain good mental health and feel able to talk about it.
  • Line managers have training and support to assist staff who disclose a mental health issue.
  • Working conditions promote good mental health.
  • Policies and practices are embedded that encourage a good work/life balance.
  • Access to taking regular breaks.

Upskill staff and line managers

  • Staff and line managers have access to information about how to improve their own and others' mental health and wellbeing through self-management.
  • Training for line managers covers how they can promote the mental health and wellbeing and be aware of the signs and symptoms of poor mental health.
  • Training or advice is available on making reasonable adjustments for mental health e.g. changes work hours, temporary redeployment.

Staff have access to interventions

  • peer support
  • stress management exercises
  • mindfulness
  • physical activity
  • sleep advice.

Further information




Supporting workplace mental health

Web pages

Our supporting workplace mental health web pages help managers provide support to their staff.

Sickness Absence Toolkit


Online support tool for line managers providing guidance on mental health related sickness absence.

Access to Work Mental Health Support Service

Support Service

This free Mental Health Support Service is funded by the Department of Work and Pensions to support employees with a mental health condition that makes it difficult to do their job. Support is also available for employers on how to improve staff mental wellbeing at work.

Reducing the risk of suicide


Crisis management in the event of a suicide


Public Health England, Business in the Community and the Samaritans have joined forces to produce useful toolkits for employers.

These toolkits help employers take action around suicide prevention and support them when responding to the death of an employee caused by suicide. They include advice on steps employers can take to help their teams and providing them with the tools and support they need to prevent suicides.

Staff mental health and wellbeing hubs

Support hubs NHSEI staff mental health and wellbeing hubs have been set up to provide health and social care colleagues rapid access to assessment and local evidence-based mental health services and support where needed.

Thriving at work – The Stevenson/Farmer review of mental health of employers


This extensive report includes recommendations employers can adopt regardless of their workplace type or size.

Mental Health at Work 2018


Funded by The Royal Foundation as part of their Heads Together campaign, Mind created the mental health at work tool. The tool covers a range of resources and examples from different organisations including businesses, charities and the government.

Men’s mental health and work – The case for a gendered approach to policy, 2018


Written by The Work Foundation and supported by financial grants from the British Safety Council and NAPP Pharmaceuticals Ltd, this report assesses the changes in recent decades that have influenced men’s role in the workplace and what impact it has on health and more importantly, how to address it.

Our Frontline Support service

Our Frontline provides 24/7 call and text emotional support from trained volunteers, as well as online resources to all frontline workers working through the pandemic

Mental health tips for new doctors

Support  NHS Practitioner Health have pulled together some top tips for how doctors can care for themselves and their colleagues when starting a new role. 
Mental health in junior staff during COVID-19 Research Paper This academic research paper outlines how mindfulness and meditation based interventions can increase the mental health of junior health and social care staff.