A campaign “Working Minds” was launched this week to help businesses recognise the signs of work-related stress and improve mental health.
It also aims to encourage employers to tackle issues routinely around mental health.
While the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is yet to be fully understood, mental health issues are the number one reason given for sick days in the UK.
Last year stress, anxiety and depression resulted in more than 17 million working days being lost.
A recent survey by the charity Mind suggests that two in five employees’ mental health had worsened during the pandemic.
What Is Work Right?
Work Right, which is run by the Health & Safety Executive, is aimed at helping smaller businesses and workers.
The “Working Minds” campaign is specifically targeting six million workers in small businesses. It aims to ensure psychological risks are treated the same as physical ones in health and safety risk management.
Working Minds provides employers and workers with easy to implement advice, including simple steps in its “5 R’s” to:
- Reach out
- make it Routine.
Why Has This Mental Health Campaign Launched Now?
HSE’s chief executive Sarah Albon says: “Work-related stress and poor mental health should be treated with the same significance as risks of poor physical health and injury.
“In terms of the effect it has on workers, significant and long-term stress can limit performance and impact personal lives.
“No worker should suffer in silence and if we don’t act now to improve workers’ mental health, this could evolve into a health and safety crisis.”
The campaign reminds businesses that employers have a legal duty to assess the risks in the workplace. This is not just in terms of potential hazards and physical safety.
They should also promote good working practices. It says this promotes an open environment where employees can share their concerns and discuss options to ease pressures.
The campaign features a number of organisations working together to highlight the triggers of stress, the legal duty of employers and how to manage the risks.
Working Minds champions include the charity Mind, which supports and empowers anyone experiencing a mental health problem in England.
What Does The Industry Think?
Speaking in support of Working Minds, Dane Krambergar, head of workplace wellbeing services at Mind, says: “We’re really pleased to be supporting HSE’s Working Minds campaign which aims to support businesses to promote good mental health among their staff.
“Mind has long been working with employers of different sizes and sectors to help them create mentally healthy workplaces, but this has never been more important.
“This campaign couldn’t have come at a better time, given the impact the pandemic has taken on employers and staff.
“We recently surveyed over 40,000 staff working across 114 organisations. Two in five (41%) employees told us their mental health had worsened during the pandemic.”
Professor Neil Greenberg, chair of the Occupational Psychiatry Special Interest Group at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, explains: “Good mental health is just as important as good physical health, so it’s vital that employers do all that they can to promote good mental health in the workplace.
“Employees should be given appropriate support to help minimise the likelihood of experiencing work-related mental health problems and be supported in their treatment and recovery if they do develop or live with a mental illness.
“HSE’s campaign will give organisations and employers the necessary tools to spot potential signs of mental ill-health, and to develop or improve their practices to protect the psychological health of their staff.”
What Does The Government Think Of Mental Health Campaign?
The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work Chloe Smith says: “Making sure businesses have the right tools to recognise and support their employees with their mental health is key to creating healthy workforces across the country.
“Campaigns like this are so important and alongside our other measures to help reduce ill-health-related job loss and initiatives such as Access to Work we can ensure even more people can stay in their job and thrive.”
If you found this article interesting, consider reading Toxic masculinity is stopping boys seeking mental health support, How to look after employee mental health in the workplace and 8 mental health questions people ask.