Report calls on employers and government to “up their game” on mental health in the workplace
A report by Lord Dennis Stevenson and Paul Farmer has urged employers to do more to look after the mental health of their workforce. Estimating that poor mental health costs employers between £33 billion and £42 billion a year, the report sets out forty recommendations for employers, government and other organisations.
These include the promotion of a set of ‘mental health core standards’ that all employers should adopt, with enhanced standards for adoption by larger private sector employers (those with more than 500 employees) and public sector employers.
The core standards cover producing, implementing and communicating a mental health at work plan that promotes good mental health of all employees and outlines the support available for those who may need it; developing mental health awareness among employees by making information, tools and support accessible; encouraging open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling; providing good working conditions and ensure employees have a healthy work life balance and opportunities for development; promoting effective people management to ensure all employees have a regular conversation about their health and well-being with their line manager, supervisor or organisational leader and train and support line managers and supervisors in effective management practices; and routinely monitoring employee mental health and wellbeing by understanding available data, talking to employees, and understanding risk factors.
The report also recommends that public bodies should encourage their suppliers to implement the mental health core standards.
Among a number of recommendations aimed at Government the report advocates the setting up of a mental health online information portal to promote best practice; the amendment of legislation and guidance to encourage employers to measure and report on workplace mental health on their website or other channels; legislation to enhance protections for employees with mental health conditions, particularly fluctuating conditions; the examination of what more might be done to require employer compliance with existing equalities and employment laws; and the alignment of the currently fragmented occupational health and practical support available from Access to Work, the Fit for Work Service and other NHS services to create an integrated in-work support.