Mental health is becoming an increasing concern for many employees and employers. Should you be introducing a specific Mental Health Policy in your workplace?
Why wouldn’t you?
In most organisations there is an ever increasing list of policies which need to be developed, communicated, maintained and updated so it’s easy to see why introducing yet another policy may not be top of the ‘to do’ list.
There is also the possibility that there are concerns about a policy needing to have lots of provisions that an employer doesn’t currently feel able to offer, or that senior leaders don’t feel there is an issue with mental health in your organisation.
If any of these are barriers for your organisation, it’s worth remembering that you can still communicate your approach to mental health within your existing Health & Safety Policy. Adding some sections about mental health awareness, wellbeing, mental health support etc may be sufficient for your needs.
Why should you?
Investing in a specific Mental Health Policy can enable you to more clearly demonstrate your compliance with legislation under the Health & Safety at Work Act and The Equality Act, both of which cover mental health in the workplace. They require employers to protect employees from mental health problems that can be caused or exacerbated by work and ensure that employees experiencing mental health problems are supported.
Having a Mental Health Policy also sends a strong signal to employees that the organisation takes mental health seriously, and helps to create a positive work culture where employees feel valued and supported. Employees who feel happy and supported at work are less likely to be absent from work, less likely to leave the organisation and more likely to fully contribute.
A Mental Health Policy can more readily promote mental health awareness and encourage employees to look after their own wellbeing, ask for support if they are struggling and signpost them to services available to them.
So if you think all of that is worthwhile and would be a good fit for your organisation, here are some tips for developing a Mental Health Policy:
- Start by assessing your organisation’s needs. What are the challenges facing your employees and what do you have available to support them? Once you are clear on these you can start to develop a policy.
- Involve your employees and managers in the development of the policy where possible. This will help to ensure that the policy is effective.
- Make sure the policy is clear and easy to understand. Employees should be able to easily find the policy and understand what it says.
- Communicate the policy to your employees. Make sure that all employees are aware of the policy and understand what it means for them.
- Provide training. Managers should be trained on how to use the policy and support employees.
- Monitor the policy and make changes as needed. Policies should be reviewed on a regular basis to make sure that they are still effective.
We have developed a free template Mental Health Policy which you can download as a member of the resource hub. If you’d like to discuss any specific challenges, or how to train your managers in managing mental health issues in the workplace please get in touch with the Vista team here.
We also have a policies section of our resource hub which has helpful guidance on how to introduce new policies, how to re-vamp old ones or how to harmonise your HR policies.