The Importance of Mental Health in the Workplace

One of our experienced recruiters’, Jade Lough, discusses why businesses need to step up their approach to mental health in the workplace. 

Mental health in the workplace

There are now over 15 awareness days throughout the year dedicated to a range of mental health topics, and you only have to look on LinkedIn to see that companies are really starting to challenge the stigma that surrounds mental health.

However, according to the World Health Organisation around 1 in 4 people will be affected by a mental health problem throughout their lives, so are employers doing enough?

With 300,000 people suffering from mental health problems losing their jobs each year, surely there’s more to be done.

Businesses tend to offer an array of benefits that support wellbeing and physical health. Such as private medical/dental insurance, free eye tests, discounted gym memberships and cycle to work schemes. However, there is little to solely support mental health. Organisations need to recognise that supporting mental health needs to fit into the wider employee health agenda. Ultimately, programs that focus on genuinely improving employee’s mental health makes a difference in peoples lives, inside and outside of work, and that’s what matters.


Why should employers implement a mental health strategy?

  • Ethics – Being an ethical employer and genuinely caring about people within the business is undoubtedly important. The more supported you are by a company, the happier and more productive you will be.
  • Productivity – It is estimated that 91 million days are lost each year to mental health illnesses and is thought to cost UK employers £42 billion per year. If organisations had a strategy/policy in place then it could be possible to increase productivity by a third.
  • Reduces turnover – Mental ill-health that is left untreated can inevitably lead to employees unfortunately leaving; which can disrupt the team and leads to lower morale and increased hiring costs.
  • Increase in morale – Happy and healthy employees tend to encourage and bring out happiness in others. Therefore, improving morale and in turn employee collaboration. A happy workforce, that works well together and supports each other, leads to a more successful business.


“Whatever goes on for employees outside of work also goes on inside of work. Helping people manage that is just the right thing to do.”
Tim Munden – Chief Learning Officer of Unilever


What are other businesses doing?

  • Unilever – has implemented a dedicated, holistic mental health programme which provides mental health training for managers, regular employee workshops, easy access to support, health checks, access to their ‘Click Wellbeing App’, alongside many other strategies to support their staff.
  • Netflix – in a twist to the standard mental health policies, Netflix offers a truly flexible approach to working and parental leave, which is believed to have a positive effect on mental health.
  • Barclays – this banking giant runs an initiative where over 200 personal employee stories around mental health have been captured on film, and in writing, to be shared with other employees. This initiative aimed to reduce stigma around mental health in their business and sparked a desire to make looking after staff’s wellbeing ‘business as usual’. Barclays also made an external commitment to normalise mental health issues by signing onto Time to Change, a pledge to support employees facing mental health challenges.
  • Virgin – in addition to employee assistance programs, Virgin offers employees access to MindCoach, which is an interactive workshop that teaches employees how to use positive psychology to improve their mental wellbeing. They also offer access to their MyWellness platform which allows people to assess, improve and maintain their wellbeing in terms of their physical, mental and community health.


What mental health initiatives does your company offer? What would you like to see implemented in the future?


If you’re wondering how your business can implement a mental health plan, or improve upon the one you already have in place. Attend our upcoming event on Taking Your Workplace Mental Health Plan To The Next Level on the 19th of March. Click here to register.


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Tags: , Categories: Employee, Employer

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