Guide to help employers manage and support staff mental health problems

  22nd December 2011      
 Company News

Together with the mental health charity Mind, CIPD are urging employers to get their staff members talking about mental health issues as economic issues ‘conspire to create the perfect ingredients for a surge in mental ill health’. Recent research confirms that most people are still afraid to disclose mental health problems to their employer — with only 4 in 10 people saying they would feel comfortable talking about mental health problems with their employer.

The results of the survey of 2,000 UK employees have been published alongside the launch of a new guide which has been developed by CIPD and Mind aiming to help employers to manage and support mental health in the workplace.

Results show that, although 26% of employees have experienced a mental health problem while at work, too few employers are taking steps to manage this increasingly business critical issue. 25% of respondents said that their organisation encourages staff members to talk about mental health problems and 37% say their employers support employee’s mental health issues well — these percentages should be far higher.

The guide — ‘Managing and supporting mental health at work — disclosure tools for managers’ will help employers to make sure they manage people in a way that supports their mental wellbeing and encourage employees to talk about any mental health problems they might have.

CIPD Head of Public Policy Ben Willmott, comments saying: “Managing mental health at work is central to good business performance. Stress is the number one cause of long-term sickness absence, but it is not just time lost to absence which impacts on the bottom line. Our survey highlights that the majority of people with poor mental health continue to attend work and report that it can impact on their ability to concentrate, make good decisions and provide effective customer service. It is estimated that this presenteeism costs UK businesses £15.1 billion per year in reduced productivity, while mental health related sickness absence costs £8.4 billion.

“The guidance underlines that managing and supporting mental health at work is integral to good people management. To a large degree this is about how managers interact with staff on a day to day basis and the extent to which they build working relationships based on mutual trust and confidence, for example, by managing workloads effectively and providing appropriate feedback, coaching and support where necessary.”

Willmott continues: “Managers are the eyes and ears of organisations, so need to be equipped with the knowledge and confidence to enable them to pick up on the early warning signs and intervene where employees are struggling. Mental ill health is usually caused by a complex interaction between pressures at work and at home, so increasing worries about debt, home repossession and job insecurity, as the economy continues to remain depressed, may well lead to a surge in mental ill health.”

Chief Executive of Mind, Paul Farmer, said: “This research shows that there is still a long way to go until workers feel able to discuss their mental health openly in work, enabling them to get the support they need. With 1 in 4 people surveyed having experienced mental ill health, this is an issue that will touch almost every workplace in the country.

“Supporting staff through a difficult period does not have to cost the earth and can have huge benefits for any organisation. This new guide provides advice for managers to help them foster an environment where staff can feel comfortable to disclose a mental health problem, and simple information to support their employees through any period of mental ill health to help their recovery.”

For more highlighted survey findings, see here.
You can download the full guide here.

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