According to HSE 526,000 workers were suffering with work-related stress, depression or anxiety (new or long-standing) in 2016/17 and a total of 12.5 million working days were lost because of these illnesses. Employers should not ignore these statistics.
In recent years more and more awareness has been raised about the effects of mental health in the workplace. To help with that awareness in July 2018 ACAS released a framework for positive mental health at work to help support managers and employers.
The framework for positive mental health at work applies to:
1. Employers – to be visibly committed to positive mental health at work
2. Managers – to be informed and open to conversations with their team members
3. Employees – to have self-awareness and ask for help from managers when needed.
Guidance for managers under the ACAS framework.
As a line manager talking to a team member who could be experiencing mental ill health may appear daunting, and it can be tempting to avoid the issue, however the earlier you become aware that a team member is experiencing mental ill health, the sooner steps can be taken to prevent it escalating and support can be provided.
A manager who believes a team member could be experiencing mental ill health should arrange a meeting without delay, to talk to the team member in private. Managers should, as part of their role, try to aim to build a rapport with all members of their teams, this should make conversations such as this more achievable. Conversations should be approached in a positive way, calmly and with patience. It is important that you remain approachable, supportive and offer reassurance.
If a team member does not wish to talk about any issues they are going through, you should not try to rush them or pressurise them to talk. Instead ensure that the team member knows you are available at any time to talk and going forward monitor the situation. If you continue to see and hear things that concern you, seek further advice and guidance from HELP.
It is also recommended that all line managers plan work with ‘people’ in mind and try to support a work-life balance for all members of their team.
Please be mindful that if a team member’s mental ill health amounts to a disability, they will be protected under the Equality Act. In this circumstance an employer must consider making ‘reasonable adjustments’ to help the employee carry out their job without being at a disadvantage.
Need help with an employee suffering with mental health? Please contact us today.