Employers have a responsibility to ensure the well being of their staff and this applies to both physical and mental health. As mental health problems are still rising, employers must respond to the challenge of mental health issues. 
 
A report published by Mind, the mental health charity shared that – 
• More than one in five (21 per cent) agreed that they had called in sick to avoid work when asked how workplace stress had affected them 
• 14 per cent agreed that they had resigned and 42 per cent had considered resigning when asked how workplace stress had affected them 
• 30 per cent of staff disagreed with the statement ‘I would feel able to talk openly with my line manager if I was feeling stressed’ 
• 56 per cent of employers said they would like to do more to improve staff wellbeing but don't feel they have the right training or guidance 
 
Employers find mental health a difficult subject to tackle  
Many employers still find it difficult to tackle the subject of mental health problems and many employees clearly still find it a stigma to discuss these issues at work. When we spend so much of our time at work its paramount that we are happy and contented. 
Stress affects not only mental health but then goes on to affect physical health which can lead to long term chronic illness. Time off work costs employers. Workplace mental ill-health costs employers around £26 billion per year. 
 
The Mental Health Foundation survey, which combined a sample of around 1,000 people who have self-defined as having mental health problems with a further sample of around 1,000 people who have line management responsibilities showed many employers lack systems to recognise and address mental health issues at work. The report also shared that only 10% of line managers felt that they had had sufficient training to deal with mental health problems at work, indicating a training need. Only 25% of respondents believed that their company policies and procedures supported employee mental health. This rises to 27% among line managers and 29% among those who have disclosed a mental health problem at work. 
Focusing on mental health and having a well thought out policy in place is vitally important. This will ensure your staff are not only treated well and feel cared for but they must also have people to turn to so they can discuss any issues they are having. 
 
Here are some ideas of what to consider including into a staff wellbeing policy and plan - 
• Ensure line managers receive training in dealing with mental health problems at work to enable them to recognise signs and offer support 
• Promote a healthy work/life balance in your company by ensuring staff take breaks, lunch breaks and holidays. 
• Make sure you offer a programme of learning and development 
• The work environment is good. If staff are happy in their workplace environment this makes a huge difference 
• Reward and recognise staff for great performance 
• Team building activities 
• Have clear lines of communication so staff know who they can turn to when they need support. 
• Access to counselling services 
 
Being actively aware of the issues of mental health and being able to support your staff will led to greater staff retention and less sick days. The well being of your staff should be a top priority as a healthy workforce will generate more output and your company will benefit as a result. Plus as an employer you should want to be known for having a culture of care in your company.  
 
If you would like more help to implement a workplace wellbeing plan and a programme contact Plain Talking HR for more advice. 
 
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