Climbing the stairs

How to promote good mental health in your business

Failing to tackle issues surrounding mental health can have dire consequences but there is a wealth of advice available to help you create a positive workplace culture.

To understand the issue of mental health at work, it’s worth first defining the term.

ACAS classifies mental health as, ‘the mental and emotional state in which we feel able to cope with the normal stresses of everyday life.

“If we are feeling good about ourselves we often work productively, interact well with colleagues and make a valuable contribution to our team or workplace.

“Positive mental health is rarely an absolute state. One may feel in good mental health generally but also suffer stress and anxiety from time to time.

“Mental ill-health can range from feeling ‘a bit down’ to common disorders such as anxiety and depression and, in limited cases, to severe mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.”

Once you’ve understood the cause and effect the next step is how to successfully address these issues and promote good mental health within your business.

First and foremost you need to create an environment where people feel comfortable discussing personal problems.

In spring 2016, Business in the Community (BITC) undertook the largest-ever survey of mental health at work in the UK. The findings revealed that 95 per cent of employees cited a reason other than workplace stress for their absence due to stigma.

According to Kate Cooper, who is head of research, policy & standards at The Institute of Leadership and Management, “You want everyone to feel they can contribute to the conversation about mental health without being judged, and you want to ensure that involvement with this issue is a positive part of their development.

“Whilst senior leaders may take informal actions to role model this behaviour, this should be accompanied by more formal statement of intent, and a formal agreement at the highest level that this is an agenda that everyone should commit to.”

There are a number of excellent guides that can help you to formulate a strategy for promoting good mental health at work.

Statistics come from a study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development published in July 2016.

What are the negative effects that mental illness can have upon a business?

  • 37% of sufferers are more likely to get into conflict with colleagues
  • 48% find it harder to juggle multiple tasks
  • 85% find it difficult to concentrate
  • 64% take longer to do tasks
  • 48% are potentially less patient with customers/ clients

Further reading

BITC has produced a Mental Health Toolkit for Employers. This offers a range of free resources and will help you to formulate an action plan.

Help and advice from ACAS for employers and employees. This features case studies and a booklet on how to promote positive mental health at work.

The Mental Health at Work 2018 report includes findings, calls to action and employer recommendations.

Mental health in the workplace

The IoD is committed to raising awareness of mental health issues in the workplace, with a particular focus on opening up the conversation for small and medium-sized businesses. We have created a hub packed full of helpful advice, best practice and useful resources, as well as shared experiences from business leaders.

Visit our mental health in the workplace hub

Get involved in the conversation @The_IoD or use the hashtag #IoDMH

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The IoD supports directors and business leaders across the UK and beyond to learn, network and build successful, responsible businesses.

Supporting good mental health and wellbeing

Browse valuable mental-health resources from the IoD.
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