Why employers should care about mental health matters

According to the TUC, around 15.4 million working days each year are lost to stress, depression or anxiety in the UK; accounting for 57 per cent of all absences.

Meanwhile, the Government reported that poor mental health costs UK employers between £33 billion and £42 billion a year.

There are several adverse business effects of mental health in the workplace, some of which include employee absence, staff turnover, loss of skills, as well as legal and reputational risks.

An employer’s strategy must be a positive approach that seeks to promote and maintain good employee mental health and to prevent problems arising.

The return on investment of workplace mental health interventions is overwhelmingly positive. Below we have listed some of the tricky scenarios that may arise in the workplace, these include:

Employee absence

Mental health-related absences can be long term, or it may be short term and intermittent. Ultimately, both these types of absence can provide grounds for dismissal.

However, when managing any type of absence, an employer should ensure that their procedure balances the needs of the individual with the needs of the business.

Poor performance

Poor performance ought to be addressed at an early stage and should identify any issues that may be causing or contributing to unsatisfactory performance.

Checks should be in place to avoid unrealistic workloads or excessive working hours impacting on employees’ mental health.

Reasonable adjustments

Equality legislation requires employers to make reasonable adjustments to help disabled employees. A mental illness such as depression or a mental health condition with symptoms such as anxiety, low mood or panic attacks are impairments that may qualify as a disability.

Provided it is equipped with robust policies and procedures and well-trained management staff, businesses should not be afraid to tackle scenarios such as these head-on.

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