As mental health week draws to an end, I can’t help but wonder why important issues such as this seem to only have a ‘certain’ period of time whereby the awareness of that particular issue is heightened.
For me this is an important issue and one which people should always be aware of, even more so when it comes to the workplace, and especially for Employers.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), one in four people in the UK will have a mental health problem at some point. In short, mental health relates to how people think, feel and behave.
HSE state that anxiety and depression are the most common mental health problems and are often caused by a reaction to a difficult life event, such as bereavement, but can also be caused by work-related issues. There is no surprise there and most people would be aware of this fact but will be unaware of how to deal with or express this in the workplace.
For me, what Employers really need to be aware of is the fact that where work-related stress is prolonged it can lead to both physical and psychological damage, including anxiety and depression. Furthermore, work can also aggravate pre-existing conditions and finally problems at work can bring on symptoms or make their effects worse.
HSE also advise that
“whether work is causing the health issue or aggravating it, employers have a legal responsibility to help their employees. Work-related mental health issues must be assessed to measure the levels of risk to staff. Where a risk is identified, steps must be taken to remove it or reduce it as far as reasonably practicable.”
Employers also need to be aware and/or reminded that they have further legal requirements to make reasonable adjustments under equalities legislation.
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