In 2018, work-related stress, anxiety or depression accounted for over half of all working days lost due to ill health in Great Britain. This makes sense given that 1 in 6 workers is currently dealing with a mental health problem. It is therefore important that employers and their staff take steps to promote positive mental health and support those experiencing mental health issues.
Mental health is about how we think, feel and behave. Anxiety and depression are the most common mental health problems. They are often a reaction to a difficult life event,, but can also be caused by work-related issues. Work can also aggravate pre-existing conditions, and problems at work can bring on symptoms or make their effects worse.
Promoting positive mental health in your workplace can be hugely beneficial. Organisations perform better when their staff are healthy, motivated and focused. Smart employers support employees who are experiencing mental health problems to cope and recover. People that feel good about themselves often work productively, interact well with colleagues and make a valuable contribution to the workplace.
Employers have a general duty of care and responsibility for employee health and so they should be confident in supporting staff experiencing mental ill health. They can help manage and prevent stress by improving conditions at work. Work-related mental health issues must also be assessed to measure the levels of risk to staff. Where a risk is identified, steps must be taken to remove it or reduce it as far as reasonably practicable.
Employers may have further legal requirements to make reasonable adjustments under equalities legislation. Adjustments for mental health are generally simple, practical and cost-effective. Employers should explore with the individual their specific needs and be as creative as possible when thinking about how to address these issues.
If you are suffering from anxiety or depression in the workplace, or are an employer seeking further information on how you can help your employees, please contact the Employment Team at Jackson Boyd as soon as possible. There are strict time limits for employment claims, so it is important to seek advice without delay.