I do not normally make a big deal out of New Year's resolutions. However this year is different. My resolution for 2018 is to ensure DMH Stallard is a workplace which actively promotes positive mental health and well-being.
The resolution stems from an opportunity I was given late last year to speak at a seminar run by Time to Change, a lottery funded national organisation, which has been established to promote mental health within the workplace.
As an employment lawyer my experience of mental health issues is so often negative. I get involved when things have gone wrong. Often the employee will have become isolated, frequently there is poor communication and both employer and employee become focused on winning the battle rather than securing a positive return to work.
All of this comes at huge cost to employers. The cost to employers of sickness arising from mental health is estimated to be between £33 and £42 billion annually. This includes not only the cost of those absent from work but also the reduced performance of those attending work while suffering mental ill health.
So what should employers be doing?
In October 2017, ACAS issued timely guidance to all employers. They encourage employers to make a commitment to understanding mental health, to improving mental health at work, to improving the areas of the workplace which contribute to poor mental health, and to educating their workforce.
The Government sponsored Stevenson/Farmer review builds on this and sets a 10 year goal for all organisations, whatever their size, to:
- be equipped with the awareness and tools to address and prevent mental ill-health at work
- be equipped to support individuals with a mental health condition to thrive at work
- be aware of how to access timely help
So what are DMH Stallard going to be doing? We have kicked off by setting up training for senior managers and HR personnel which is focused on qualifying delegates as mental health first aid champions by giving them an understanding of common mental health illnesses and the confidence to promote mental health awareness.
So, good luck with your New Year's resolution and wish me luck with mine. In the meantime, if you would like to hear more about what we are doing or discuss how you might approach mental health within your workplace, please do let me know.