Health and care organisations may be very skilled and experienced in promoting the mental well-being of their service users, but how well do they promote the well-being of their employees?
Last month a report called ‘Thriving at work’ written by Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of MIND and Lord Dennis Stevenson will hopefully influence a number of organisations as well as Government in helping people with mental health problems stay in work. The report can be accessed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/thriving-at-work-a-review-of-mental-health-and-employers. The report sets out what they call core standards that the authors believe can be implemented at all levels, from big public-sector employers to small and medium firms and even the self-employed.
So these are the challenges that the report sets out:
- That organisations should have a Mental Health at Work Plan – that would include your workplace policies
- Promoting mental health awareness amongst employees – there are plenty of opportunities for that, including making information available
- Encouraging conversations about mental health in the workplace, so that problems aren’t hidden only to worsen later on. That can start when new employees are recruited
- Provide workers with good working conditions and promote a healthy work-life balance
- Effective people management – this highlights the importance of regular supervision, which should be about offering personal support as well as other management functions, including training
- Monitor employee well-being – one of the findings of the report was that physical health conditions often run alongside mental health problems. Employers should be aware of other risk factors that might impact on mental well-being
All Sizes of Employer
The report maintains that these standards can be achieved by all employers, but acknowledges it might be more difficult for smaller organisations. The report’s authors see benefits for employers in terms of recruitment if they can promote these standards as a package that makes for a more attractive workplace. Organisations should be able to seek support and guidance from other organisations particularly if they are small. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has guidelines on how organisations can create the right conditions to support mental well-being at work which you can view at: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ph22.
Other recommendations include the idea that trade bodies could accredit members who are active mental health promoters and that industry regulators should promote standards on workplace mental health. The report sees a role for Government in making sure national mental health campaigns stress the importance of mental health in the workplace, or even financial incentives to reduce mental health sickness rates.