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Mental Health at Work – What Role do Employers Have?

Mental Health issues currently affect 1 in 4 people in the UK. Moreover, over the course of a lifetime, 1 in 5 people will have suicidal thoughts. 

Employers have a significant role to play in supporting their employees’ mental health. People in work spend about one-third of their lives at their place of employment. It is instrumental that employers create an environment where the well-being of employees is prioritised and they feel supported in times of crisis.

Research shows that several groups of people may be more susceptible to mental health issues than others:

  • LGBTQIA+ people are between 2-3 times more likely than heterosexual people to report having a mental health problem in England.
  • Black or Black British people more commonly experience mental health problems than White British people.
  • Young women aged 16-24 are more likely to experience mental health problems than adults, with this number rapidly rising.
  • People who have experience with homelessness, substance misuse, and contact with the criminal justice system are at a greater risk of having a mental health problem. 

Although identity does not give a person mental health problems, higher risk for these groups of people is linked to several factors including social inequality, disadvantage, and lack of opportunity, facing discrimination and social exclusion, and trauma. 

It is therefore essential that employers commit to creating inclusive workplaces that provide equal opportunities for people from marginalised groups. Moreover, employers should be aware of the various risk-factors for different groups of people and have steps in place to support their mental wellbeing at work. As well managing workloads and offering regular well-being meetings, organisations can:

  • Demonstrate a transparent and action-based approach to increase inclusion and equal opportunities in the workplace, e.g by conducting representational analysis.
  • Be aware of how identity intersects with mental health and how to support employees that are from at-risk groups by engaging with relevant training and resources. 
  • Have policies in place to avoid discrimination in the workplace, tackle it if it does occur, and reduce the negative impact on employee well-being. 
  • Practise flexible working to support employees experiencing mental health problems, including work from home options. Ensure there are steps in place to maintain contact and well-being check-ins with employees who are working remotely.

Mind resources:

Mental health at work resources:

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