Mental Health report 'Thriving at Work' published

Posted by Tim Forer on
The 'Thriving at Work' report, an independent review commissioned by Theresa May back in January this year has been published today and it delivers some shocking statistics comments Tim Forer, Barrister and partner at Blake Morgan Solicitors.

According to the report, 300,000 people with a long-term mental health problem lose their jobs each year.  Poor mental health costs the UK economy up to £99bn a year, £42bn of which is borne by employers. The economic case for making changes and improvements to the way in which we deal with mental health is overwhelming. An analysis by Deloitte identified potential to generate a return to business of between £1.50 to £9 for every £1 invested. Employers are urged to put mental health and workplace stress high on their agendas.

Authors, Paula Farmer (Mind Chief Executive) and Dennis Stevenson (former HBOS chair and mental health campaigner) were shocked to find the number of people forced to stop work as a result of mental health problems was 50% higher than for those physical health conditions. This finding comes after Theresa May stated that the importance of support networks for people with mental health issues had been brought home to her by the observation that anyone at work with a physical injury such as a broken arm would have people talking about it whereas "if you have a mental health problem, people are more likely to try and avoid you." The authors believe the evidence shows mental health is still very much a taboo subject which may be down to a combination of lack of understanding in some workplaces and "lack of speedy access to mental health services."

The report sets out six "mental health core standards." This is a framework for a set of actions which they believe all organisations are capable of implementing quickly. These are:

  • Produce, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan;
  • Develop mental health awareness among employees;
  • Encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling;
  • Provide employees with good working conditions and ensure they have a healthy work life balance and opportunities for development;
  • Promote effective people management through line managers and supervisors;
  • Routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing.

Farmer and Stevenson believe the core standards will help guide employers moving forward. With the likely impact of this report on many employers and the stigma around mental health beginning to shift the hope is that the core standards framework will help employers manage mental health issues in the workplace effectively.

The good news is that many employers are already proactively tackling employees' mental health at work by extending flexible working options for example, or providing access to employee assistance programmes. Many are trying to create a more open culture where people feel comfortable talking about their mental health.

Blake Morgan has a dedicated Well-being, Health and Safety programme as part of its firm-wide training academy.  It also has a Mental Health First Aid scheme which sees trained mental health champions working to raise awareness of mental health issues. The firm has a Mental Health First Aider in every region where it operates and these are signposted in the same way as physical first aiders. Staff also have access to a wide range of resources via an online portal and these include mindfulness resources such as Be Mindful online courses as well as resources on subjects such as managing stress and coping with change.

About the Author

Tim is highly experienced in employment law and specialises in advocacy. He also provides practical, commercial advice to organisations.

Tim Forer
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