A recent survey by Doncaster Chamber says 97% of businesses do not offer any help for staff with mental health issues. Similarly BTC also say business owners do not know what to offer their staff.

Well the simple answer is – listen and provide. A member of staff is a valuable asset to your business.

Losing someone through sickness absence because of stress severely affects the way your business can respond to clients. In addition to that, the workload of the absentee is either shelved or colleagues have to pitch in and in that process become stressed themselves.

Gone are the days when having a mental health issue is a stigma. Bosses should be encouraged to ask how their staff are coping both at home and at work. If you don’t know you can’t help and sometimes what you see is just the tip of the iceberg.

Staff absences cost money. And adds to the stress of fellow workers, who cover for them. It also means that if problems aren’t nipped in the bud, staff may leave or have to be dismissed. This incurs recruitment and training costs for your business.

If you are in any doubt as to what is happening for stressed staff, ask your staff to take a look at the HSE stress audit tool and that can be a self assessment exercise for them.

Above all, if an employee has a severe mental health issue they come under the Equality Act 2010 as being classed as disabled and as such can ask for reasonable workplace adjustments.

So how do you take care of staff and provide a stress free work environment?

  • Regular reviews
  • Team meetings
  • Training
  • Open door policy
  • Awareness raising about mental health
  • Psychoeducation on common mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, stress and life events.
  • Promoting a healthy lifestyle
  • Clear support pathways
  • Stamp out the stigma of mental health
  • Above all put in place a staff support strategy

The strategy does not have to cost a fortune.

  • It can just mean offering time off to see GP/Mental health work. This can be done by introducing flexitime if possible.
  • Just having leaflets and posters available on how to access help if needed can be a lifeline or a data base of help on your intranet
  • Or you can enrol staff in an Employee Assistance scheme- many are available.
  • Encouraging staff to join a health scheme such as Simply Health or Westfield can give them access to counselling and support 24/7

The question is – can you afford to do nothing? 
Bear in mind your duty of care to staff.