A Mental Health Strategy is good for your Business!

Employers have a duty of care to their employees, which means that they should take all steps which are reasonably possible to ensure their health, safety and well being. Demonstrating concern for the physical and mental health of your workers shouldn’t just be seen as a legal duty – there’s a clear business case, too. It can be a key factor in building trust and reinforcing your commitment to your employees, and can help improve staff retention, boost productivity and pave the way for greater employee engagement. ACAS

Employees will experience work related stress and mental health problems in any business, but some small employers may have concerns about how they can support staff experiencing mental health issues and the cost implications for their business. The fact is, taking small steps to support staff at an early stage can result in significant cost savings for small businesses. https://www.fsb.org.uk/media-centre/press-releases/fsb-and-mind-launch-guidance-on-mental-health-in-the-workplace-pr-2011-21

Just imagine an employee having an accident at work, or becoming obviously ill at their desk, things which no business or their employees would ignore. I am sure that most businesses have a written or informal policy to cover these physical illnesses, but how many have a written policy covering mental health issues?

For many businesses what they don’t see, or what is not obvious is something they can ignore. And yet how many employees come to work struggling with mental health issues, maybe around relationship problems, bereavement, anxiety or depression, any of which might impact their ability to work to the best of their ability. And how many business owners themselves struggle with the stresses inherent in running a business, which in turn may impact family life and which they then bring back into the business environment.

Choosing not to have a mental health plan in place, means a business is choosing to neglect the overall well-being of their workforce, and in turn potentially impacting the successful and profitable performance of the business.

So what needs to be in a business mental health policy? And how to go about writing it?

Stage 1 : What do you want to achieve?

Is it just about awareness, or are you wanting to promote a culture of acceptance about mental health issues in the business? Do you want to have an individual/s specifically trained and responsible for mental health first aid? Do you want to involve your employees in writing this, inviting them to say what they think this might look like?

Stage 2 : Draft the policy out

This is not about picking an off-the-shelf solution, of which there are many, but writing something tailored to your business and your workforce. Decide how comprehensive this might be, how easy to understand and implement it might be. How does it fit in with existing health and safety policies the business may have? Does it fit in with the values and ethos of the business?

Stage 3 : Talk to professionals

As with any formal policy perhaps run it past your solicitor to make sure it is worded appropriately, that it is not going to interfere with other policies, or that it will be difficult to introduce and implement. Talk to a mental health professional to understand what the issues are which might arise, how these can be approached, and how a policy like this can be effective rather than just the right gesture.

Stage 4 : Introduce and implement the policy

Think about how this will be introduced? To make the best use of it perhaps it needs to be introduced across the workforce as a positive and supportive policy rather than a potential big stick to wave over someone’s head.  Who will introduce it? Mental health is a potentially scary subject, and even experienced HR professionals may find talking about this challenging, so might this be a mental health partner going forwards? Does this involve any training and if so who will deliver this? Is there going to be an individual responsible for overseeing and monitoring this? and how is it going to be reviewed, kept up to date? Are you  going to have a specific mental health professional working with your business to implement this going forward and if so on what basis are they involved? How as a business owner are you going to show your support for this?

To find out more or to talk to us direct about putting a mental health policy in place for your business, call us on 07544 045713 or email kaizencounselling@hotmail.com

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