New guidance for businesses on mental health

On World Mental Health Day, business groups are calling for more to be done to help employers tackle mental health issues in the workplace.

A report by Business in the Community has found that only 11% of people feel able to disclose a mental health issue to their line manager while half of line managers say they would welcome training on the issue.

guidelines for employers to mark World Mental Health Day - which takes place on 10 October. The guidance includes advice on:

  • Spotting the signs of mental ill health;
  • Talking to a team member that may be experiencing mental ill health;
  • Supporting a team member during periods of mental ill health;
  • Helping a team member return to work.

Tom Neil, head of Acas guidance, said: "Most managers are used to dealing with physical ill health but can be less confident on the best approach for handling mental ill health. With one in six workers experiencing mental health issues it makes sense for managers to have an understanding of the signs and approaches that can be taken. Our new guidance can help managers develop the rights skills to support individuals as well as creating a culture of wellbeing in their workplace."

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has called for "an end to the silence on mental health in the workplace". The FSB is urging the Government to work with small businesses and the self-employed to tackle the impact of mental health issues at work. Much of the available help is not tailored for the SME sector, it says.

In the past five years, the FSB's medical and health advice service has seen double the number of small business owners and self-employed seeking advice on mental health conditions, such as depression, work-related stress and anxiety.

Mike Cherry, FSB national chairman, said: "For small business owners and the self-employed, poor mental health can significantly affect the day-to-day running of their business while also damaging their health. This can also impact the wellbeing and mental health of their employees.

"Mental health conditions are often seen as being a silent problem with employees not feeling able to open up and talk about what they are experiencing. There is a collective responsibility, shared between business owners, employees, Government and society as a whole to tackle the stigma associated with mental health and to speak more openly about it."

The FSB has published a guide, Wellbeing in Small Business, providing ideas to business owners and the self-employed on how they can better manage their own wellbeing and that of their employees.

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