One in four people in the UK will have a mental health problem at some point in their lifetime. Anxiety and depression are the most common problems which are often a reaction to a difficult life event, such as bereavement, but can also be caused by work-related issues. The value added to the economy by people who are at work and have had or have mental health problems is as high as £225 billion per year, which represents 12.1% of the UK’s total GDP.
An employee or job candidate is not legally obliged to mention any medical condition, whether mental or not to an employer. Mental illness in particular is a very personal thing and it can be difficult to talk about even to your nearest and dearest, let alone an employer.
Whether work is causing the health issue or aggravating it, employers have a legal responsibility, known as a “duty of care” to help their employees by providing a supportive working environment.
Work-related mental health issues must be assessed to measure the levels of risk to staff making sure the working environment is safe - notwithstanding the benefits to the employee, addressing wellbeing at work increases productivity by as much as 12%. Where a risk is identified, steps must be taken to remove it or reduce it as far as reasonably practicable. This means employers must do all they can realistically do in order to support their employees’ health, safety and wellbeing.
This could include:
- making sure the working environment is safe
- protecting staff from discrimination
- carrying out risk assessments
Adjustments for employees with a mental health condition could include:
- offering flexible working patterns, including changes to start and finish times and adaptable break times
- changing their working environment, for example providing a quiet place to work
- working with them to create an action plan to help them manage their condition
- allowing them to leave work to attend appointments connected with their mental health
If you are struggling with mental health issues in or out of the workplace then please reach out. You can find more information and support here: