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Mental Health at Work and Duty of Care

Digital Union Member Oculus HR share their thoughts on the issue of mental health at work and how employers can support staff with mental health problems.

As an employer, you have a duty of care to your staff and play an important role when it comes to support surrounding mental health. If an employee is experiencing mental health problems, it’s important that you provide support in the right way by listening, communicating and putting things in place to make staff feel comfortable at work.

Statutory health and safety duties in the UK include taking reasonable care towards someone with mental health problems and not discriminating against someone with a disability. Some, but not all mental health conditions constitute as a disability, but it’s important that employers don’t stereotype or make any assumptions no matter what the condition of their employee may be.

How can employers support staff with mental health problems?

The first thing employers or managers need to be aware of is how approachable they are. It’s important to show you care and have time for your staff, so ensuring regular reviews or catch ups may provide opportunity to open up and talk.

If a staff member comes to you to discuss their mental health, you need to avoid making any assumptions and assure the employee of the confidentiality of the discussion and respond in a considerate and caring manner. You may need to seek advice to ensure you approach the situation in the best way possible, or you may be able to make adjustments to an employees working day so that they feel comfortable in the workplace.

Mind/CIPD have created a document that employers may find useful when speaking to their staff about mental health, including ways to have a conversation about mental health and how to respond to employees including what sort of reasonable adjustments can be made.

Return to work meetings in the workplace

If an employee has been absent from work, it’s important to carry out a return to work meeting when they come back. This shows that you as an employer care for your staff and provides opportunity to find out about the absence and if anything can be put in place for support.

While you’re not expected to be an expert in mental health, you do need to be aware of how mental health can affect the working day. There are many expert organisations in place if you need guidance or advice surrounding mental health, or you can seek support from human resources.

Here are some resources you may find useful:

Samaritans
Mind
Mental Health at Work

Here at Oculus HR, we provide trusted support and advice on how to deal with mental health in the work place. Our employment law expert can also ensure you understand your duties and provide knowledge to all different types of employers.

Our staff have undertaken training relating to mental health in the workplace. If you would like to discuss mental health in the work place or your policies and procedures, get in touch today to receive a free HR review!

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