Employer health obligations: mental, not just physical!

Mental health in the workplace is a topic that has been under scrutiny recently. . As work environments become more pressurised and employees work longer hours, stress-related illnesses are becoming more prominent.

It is important that employers protect their employees, especially as mental health seems to be slipping through the net with it comes to legal health obligations.

Despite mental health campaigns coming to the forefront on social media, there are still a large amount of employers who shy away from their responsibilities. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. Employers should ask themselves what plans they have in place when an issue occurs. If HR managers don’t have the time or skills best equipped to solve a mental health issue, one option is an Employee Assistance Programme, which provides around the clock telephone counselling and an online help system.

That being said, every employee is different and mental health issues are varied. Employee Assistance Programmes are great and will suit a large majority of staff, but there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all scheme. An Employee Assistance Programme should work as part of a greater strategy. The best way to combat mental health issues is to introduce an open-door policy, create a fair working environment and communicate any schemes you have in place to ensure maximum take up.

“We’re all well aware of employers’ responsibilities to maintain their employees’ physical health – and we’ve seen the horror stories when they don’t,” commented Louise Wesley, our Operations Director at Busy Bees Benefits. “But often, mental health is side-lined and employees don’t know how to seek help when their work life becomes a bit too stressful.

“Recent research states that just 5% of employees believe their employer is helpful when dealing with mental health issues. Clearly, this is not good enough and work still needs to be done in this area. Whether it’s introducing a new scheme or communicating those that you already have in place, employers should focus on mental health improvements.

“All aspects of health affect an employees’ productivity in the workplace! The last thing an employer needs is extended levels of sickness and absence leave,” she concluded.

At Busy Bees Benefits, we offer a variety of employee benefits which seek to actively engage, reward and protect employees. Our Employee Assistance Programme offers a solution to help employees deal with problems inside and outside of the workplace that may be causing stress. Our programme provides employees with counselling services and an online help system, giving them access to confidential and caring support. In order to find out more about our Employee Assistance Programme, call us on 0330 333 9100.