Why mental health in the workplace matters

Paul Farmer

In this blog Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, the mental health charity, shares five reasons why mental health in the workplace matters and how Mind support people to stay mentally well.

1. It’s the right thing to do
Whether or not an employee has a mental health problem, an employer has a duty of care to ensure their health, safety and wellbeing under health and safety legislation.  Employers have a duty to assess the risks arising from hazards at work, including work-related mental health problems. If an employee is considered to have a disability, the Equality Act 2010 says that they have a right not to be discriminated against in employment. This means that employers must not treat individuals with a mental health problem less favourably than other people. 

2. It boosts productivity
Smart employers know that organisations are only as strong as their people – they depend on having a healthy and productive workforce. Good mental health underpins this. By positively managing and supporting employee mental wellbeing, employers can ensure that staff perform to their potential – and this allows the business to achieve peak performance. Research shows that FTSE 100 companies that prioritise employee wellbeing outperform the rest of the FTSE 100 by 10 per cent. By supporting staff wellbeing, they reap the benefits through enhanced morale, loyalty, commitment, innovation, productivity and profitability.

3. It makes good business sense
Increasing employee engagement and creating a mentally healthy workplace are interdependent. Positively managing mental health underpins good employee engagement and benefits everyone – employees, employers and the bottom line. Engagement is about recognising that employees, if they are to perform at their best, must be respected, involved, heard, well-led and valued. Making changes that have a positive impact on employee experiences at work are integral. Approaches such as flexible working, building resilience and staff development contribute to good engagement.

4. The cost of not acting can be significant
The Thriving at Work review stated that poor mental health costs the UK economy up to £99bn every year. £42bn of this is as a direct cost to employers lost through sickness absence, presenteeism and staff turnover. We know that there’s a huge human cost related to mental health, but figures from the review show the business case for addressing mental health in the workplace, with proactive employers also reaping the rewards of a more motivated, healthy workforce.

5. It values and promotes a diverse workforce
The Thriving at Work review found that people with long-term mental health problems were leaving jobs at twice the rate of colleagues without mental health problems. Whether this was because they felt unsupported by their employer or unable to access suitable treatment, the human and economic cost cannot be ignored. Promoting good mental health at work is a key part of being a responsible employer that values the contribution of their employees. Forward-thinking employers recognise the benefits of recruiting and retaining a talented and diverse workforce, including people who might be experiencing a mental health problem.

At Mind our aim is to support a million people to stay well and have good mental health at work by 2021. Through our work with employers, we’re building a movement for change in mental health at work. We have a workplace wellbeing team who provides expert guidance and support for employers who want to support their staff mental health, you can get contact them via our website or by emailing work@mind.org.uk.

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