#OneMind - Mental Health Risk Assessments should be made mandatory in the workplace
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The UK is facing a mental health crisis.
This crisis is even more prevalent in these unprecedented times due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
As the UK has gone into lockdown, more employees will be working from home and many more will be in self isolation, some not able to have any human contact at all.
The lockdown will also mean critical workers will be working more hours, under more pressure and in a much more vulnerable situations. These changes to our work life will have great implications on all employees. we no longer 'see' employees, so reaching out and assessing everyones mental health is of paramount importance.
The seriousness of this crisis can be illustrated by the fact that the nations mental health as a whole declined last year (2019) with the costs increasing for employer as a result, despite all the positive awareness which took place. Therefore, there is no doubt that the pandemic and the current lockdown we are facing will cause serious implications on all employees mental health.
Therefore, it is now more than ever we need make the change in current legislation to protect all employees by making wellbeing and mental health risk assessments mandatory.
If we do not make this vital change now the repercussions in 12 months’ time will have an impact our workplace which will be another challenge to overcome when trying to return back to normality.
● Each year, 300,000 people with long-term mental health conditions lose their job. This is only likely to increase due to the current issues the country faces.
● One in four people in work have left a job due to mental health problems. A further 43% of people considered leaving a job due to stress or mental ill health, yet fewer than one fifth of the organisations in which they worked had mental health policies in place.
● Presenteeism from mental health is estimated to cost the UK economy £15.1 billion per annum.
● Mental health absenteeism costs the UK economy £8.4 billion per annum.
● A recent poll by OnePoll found that 38% of people report being stressed about work.
● The Health and Safety Executive reports that 15.4 million working days were lost in 2018 because of stress, anxiety and depression.
● Stress is costing British businesses £1,000 per employee per annum in sick pay and associated costs.
● A Business in the Community publication, “Mental Health at Work”, has found that 15% of employees face dismissal, demotion or disciplinary action after disclosing a mental health issue at work. This could equate to 1.2 million people of working age in the UK.
● The same publication found that just 11% of employees felt able to disclose mental health issues to their line manager.
Having suffered with PTSD and anxiety for most of my life, and through my work and discussions with people who have mental ill health, it is abundantly clear to me that the law needs to be changed to move mental health up the agenda of businesses.
Business don’t think twice about ensuring they have a fire extinguisher that works and testing the carbon monoxide and fire alarms in work places and as well as their electrical equipment with regular PAT testing.
But, as it currently stands, there is nothing compelling businesses to carry out the same risk assessments when it comes to mental health and wellbeing.
As such, we call upon the government to implement new legislation to require employers with over 50 employees to conduct annual risk assessments in the following ways:
1. On the business as a whole identifying what resources are available and any gaps which may then suggest appropriate training and support moving forward.
2. For individuals on their own mental health. This would operate in a similar way to a DSE assessment when an employee starts a new job. This should then be reviewed annually. this individual assessment would be anonymous - allowing the employee to be open and then produce a report for the employer so that they can target training in areas their work force really need.
The current health and safety regulations require employers to satisfy various obligations in respect of equipment and facilities in the workplace, and what should be done if an employee becomes ill or is injured at work. It is clear from these Regulations that employers must take physical health seriously and make a commitment to it in all workplaces. Mental health should be treated the same.
Changing the legislation to make Annual Mental Health Risk Assessments compulsory will not only improve the mental wellbeing of our workforce, it will also help to bring mental health to the top of the agenda in every workplace and help to identify where the gaps are in their current processes. This risk assessment would be able to identify what each business needs to do to:
1. Sign-post employees to already available resources
2. Identify Mental Health First aiders and Champions in each workplace
3. Identify training needs for all employees and managers
4. Give employees the tools to keep themselves and their colleagues healthy
5. Encourage employees to access support as soon as it is needed, for a faster recovery
6. Empower employees with a long-term mental health issue or disability to thrive in the workplace
7. Stop preventable health issues arising by building a supportive culture around mental health
8. Embed positive, long-term cultural change across their business through robust policies
9. Identify the wider strategy around mental health including policies and processes which should be readily available and visible
By investing in mental health and wellbeing from the outset of the working relationship it will inevitably improve the management of mental ill health, meaning employers can save at least 30% of the cost of lost production and staff turnover. It is understood that by spending just 80p on health promotion and intervention, £4 can be saved in costs due to absenteeism, temporary staff and presenteeism.
This saving could be critical not only during but after the pandemic has ended when trying to return to normality and boost the economy.
Even more importantly, employers can ensure that an employee with a mental health issue can be helped through what is likely to be one of the most difficult times in their life, while remaining in a supportive workplace.
We conduct this assessments every 3 months and have seen a huge improvement with our team and our clients.
I set up Thrive Law with the intention of creating an environment for employers and employees to Thrive in the workplace. that workplace is now home, that challenge is even harder.
I strongly believe this change in the law will have a hugely beneficial impact on employers and employees as well as on the UK economy.
We only have #OneMind - we must all work together to protect this.
Please show your support by signing this petition and sharing in your networks to call upon the government to ensure that businesses treat physical health in parity with mental health.
Together we can make a difference.
Founder of Thrive Law
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