Mental Health in the Workplace

28 February 2022

19% of the Irish population suffer from psychological illnesses. Meaning, Ireland has one of the highest rates of mental health conditions in Europe.

Like physical health, people need to take care of their mental health too. If not, the consequences can affect both their professional and personal lives.

As an employer, you have a duty of care to protect your staff’s wellbeing. This includes dealing with mental health in the workplace.

In this guide, you will learn how mental health can be affected by work, the laws on equality, and how to promote positive mental health.

What is mental health in the workplace?

Mental health involves the emotional, psychological, and social condition of a person. It’s about how we think, feel, and behave.

Some of the most common illnesses include stress, anxiety, and depression. Some illnesses last for short periods; others can bring life to a complete stop.

There are many reasons or triggers which can initiate mental health issues at work. These include:

  • Excessive workloads.
  • Health or personal problems.
  • Employee burnout.
  • Bad work standards.
  • Pressures from job security.

Why is mental health in the workplace important?

Poor mental health can be problematic for both the employee and the business overall. Without caring for them, you could risk facing:

  • Disengaged employees.
  • High turnover.
  • Health and safety liabilities.
  • Poor performance and conduct.
  • Decrease in profit.

Mental health stigma

In today’s society, there’s a lot of stigma around mental health–and it hasn’t escaped the workplace.

Most employees don’t want to be treated differently because of an illness. They fear being labelled with ‘mental problems’. They would rather hide their conditions, so it won’t affect their chances for job offers or promotions.

It’s important to have open discussions about mental and emotional health. By creating a more inclusive culture, employees can comfortably work without worrying about their capability.

In return for promoting employee wellbeing, you gain an increase in performance, retention, and motivation.

Legislation on mental health in the workplace

Under the Employment Equality Act (2015), you must protect the health, safety, and welfare of your staff. And this includes physical, mental, and emotional health.

In some cases, an employee’s mental health condition can legally count as a disability. This is when it:

  1. Has substantial effects on their performance, like being unable to complete tasks.
  2. Lasts for at least 12 months or is expected to.
  3. Stops them from doing normal activities, like interacting with people.

You cannot disregard their condition, or you could be held liable for disability discrimination.

How to promote mental health in the workplace

The most effective way to help employees is through promoting positive mental health.

You can easily support employees by creating an overall healthy workspace. Here are steps for improving mental health in the workplace:

Talk about mental health

Treat mental health as equally important as physical health. As an employer, it’s vital that your business embodies this.

Build a culture that normalises talking about illnesses, and eliminate mental health stigmas.

Provide workplace adjustments

It’s your legal and moral duty to provide reasonable workplace adjustments. These can be simple changes, like staggered work times or remote working.

Some employees might need specific requirements. Discuss what they need and how you can support their mental health in the workplace.

Structure your routine

Employees can benefit from structuring their workday. Through daily routines, you can reduce work-related illnesses like stress, burnout, and overworking.

Use visual aids, like planners, to write out tasks and long-term targets. These can also help manage unexpected changes or additional work which comes their way.

Get expert advice on mental health with Peninsula

All employers have a legal duty to provide a healthy and safe workplace environment.

If an employee suffers from a mental health condition, you must protect them from triggers during work.

By taking a proactive approach, employees will feel valued and respected. This will result in better performance and production.

You risk legal claims and breaches if you fail to support your staff. And this can lead to court attendances and compensation fees.

Peninsula offers expert advice on mental health in the workplace. Our Employee Wellbeing Programme (EAP) provides tailored support and assistance to you and your workforce.

Get in touch today, or use our callback form to arrange a more convenient time. Call us on 0800 028 2420

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