World Mental Health Day 2017 – How Businesses Can Help Staff

By Sam Thomas | 9th October 2017 | 14 min read

In the UK there are over 15.2 million sick days taken per year due to stress, anxiety or depression alone.  As a result, UK employers are now working harder to understand and properly manage mental health issues in the workplace.

Today the World Health Organisation celebrates World Mental Health Day, an opportunity to talk about mental health and what needs to be done to make mental healthcare a reality for people. This year’s theme set by the world federation for mental health is mental health in the workplace.

Mental Health issues can affect anyone at any time of the year, however, the day is a great way to talk openly about issues and break down the barriers of the subject.  According to Mind, a leading Mental Health Charity, poor mental health is now the number one reason for staff absence, as a result, the importance of employee wellbeing has risen up the agenda for UK businesses.

Key Facts

  • Mental health costs the UK £70bn per year, equivalent to 4.5% of GDP (OECD)
  • Mental ill-health costs each employer £1,035 per employee, per year (Sainsbury Centre for mental health)
  • There are 15.2m sick days per year due to stress, anxiety or depression (Office for National Statistics)
  • Failure to unlock discretionary effort costs UK business £6bn (BUPA)
  • Only 2 in 5 employees are working at peak performance (CIPD)

It’s important for businesses to attract and retain committed employees by prioritising the mental health of staff. Employees that are valued and supported are proven to work harder and be more successful in their roles compared to those that don’t feel supported or valued.

Seven ways employers can support employee well-being in the workplace

  1. Accept that time off for mental health reasons is just as valid as time for physical health-related reasons
  2. Conduct return to work interviews monitor all absences and keep in touch with your employees
  3. Integrating mental health and wellbeing throughout policies and procedures
  4. Always support staff and don’t feel awkward about offering help
  5. Raise awareness and creating an open culture to discuss mental health
  6. Be flexible and take a look at your working culture
  7. Encourage a culture of respect for mental health

What Next?

In light of World Mental Health Day 2017, IRIS is running a dedicated webinar on the 26th October at 11 am focussing on understanding and managing mental health issues in the workplace from an employment law perspective. We're joined by Marie Walsh, Director at Consilia Legal who'll provide her expert HR knowledge alongside Joshua Parker of IRIS.

Register Now