Report recommends improved mental health policies in the workplace

Thriving at Work, written by Paul Farmer of Mind and the peer Lord Stevenson, sets out six ‘mental health core standards’

All workplaces, including those in the charity sector, need to improve their mental health policies for employees, with 300,000 people across the country losing their jobs every year because of poor mental health, a new report says.

The report, Thriving at Work, written by Mind chief executive Paul Farmer, and the crossbench peer Lord Stevenson, was commissioned by the Prime Minister, Theresa May, in January to examine how employers could better support staff with mental ill-health.

The report says poor mental health costs the UK between £74bn and £99bn a year, whereas effective mental health policies have a return of between £1.50 and £9 for every £1 invested in them.

It also sets out six “mental health core standards”, which include promoting effective people management, routinely monitoring employee mental health and wellbeing, and developing mental health awareness among employees.

Other core standards it suggests include producing and implementing plans for mental health at work, promoting a healthy work-life balance and encouraging open conversations about mental health.

Online portals in which to discuss mental health and wellbeing guidance and using digital technology to support remote workers are also recommended in the report.

Farmer said: “We found that, in many workplaces, mental health is still a taboo subject and opportunities are missed to prevent poor mental health and ensure employees who might be struggling get the support they need. In many instances employers simply don’t understand the crucial role they can play, or know where to go for advice and support.

“Every employer in the UK has a responsibility to support employees with mental health problems and promote the mental wellbeing of their entire workforce.”

Third Sector ran a series of online features on mental health in charity workplaces earlier this month, for which Farmer contributed an article in which he said it was crucial for charity leaders to set good examples on mental health.

“The most crucial thing is leadership,” Farmer said in the article. “Despite what we might like to believe, senior leaders are not immune to stress and mental health problems at work, and only by acknowledging that can we set the best example.

“Taking responsibility for our own mental wellbeing, being honest with ourselves about what our limitations are and doing our best to maintain a good work-life balance are the only ways to make sure our staff do the same. We are surrounded by people who are passionate about their work and who will happily go the extra mile, but if we set the wrong example we can’t expect our teams not to repeat our own bad habits.”

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