Get in the Know about Mental Health.

By Andrew Knorpel, Partner, Head of Employment.

Mental health was very much a hidden condition, with few people admitting that they suffer from it and resources for treating it being limited. Over the last few years, not only has discussion been far more open, but the Government has brought mental health towards the top of its agenda in November 2016 within its “Improving Lives” Green Paper aiming to put mental and physical health on an equal footing. In January 2017, the Prime Minister also announced a review into managing mental health issues in the workplace, co-chaired by the CEO of MIND.

The outcome of a survey last year by Business in the Community was published in their Mental Health at Work Report 2016. Some headlines included:

77% of employees have experienced symptoms of poor mental health at some point in their lives
29% of employees have been diagnosed with a mental health condition
62% of employees attributed their symptoms of poor mental health to work or said that work was a contributing factor
Only 11% of employees discussed a recent mental health problem with their line manager
Only 22% of line managers have received mental health training
35% of employees did not approach anyone for support the last time they experienced poor mental health
As discussed at our Cobham seminar earlier this week (which we will be repeating in Croydon in May 2017), employers need to “get talking about mental health” and this was the slogan for Time to Talk Day on 2 February 2017. Employers need to understand mental health issues in the first place, before they can support their staff, adopt the appropriate procedures, communicate effectively and prevent problems arising.

As part of offering support, employers may wish to train their line managers in mental health and MHFA England teaches people how to identify, understand and help a person who may be developing a mental health issue.

Of course, having an understanding of mental health also helps to ensure that you stay on the right side of the legal line when it comes to disability discrimination where ignorance of a mental health condition will not necessarily be a legitimate excuse.

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