Back to school…but is it time for a change?
Having been commissioned by the Prime Minister earlier this year to lead an independent review into mental health in the workplace, Lord Dennis Stevenson (a mental health campaigner) and Paul Farmer CBE (Chief Executive Officer of Mind and Chair of the NHS Mental Health Taskforce) published their report, Thriving at Work, last month.
Acknowledging the enormous human cost of poor mental health, the report sets out 40 recommendations for employers, regulators, the public sector and the Government to consider.
Noting that employers were the focus of the review because they “are perhaps able to have the greatest impact and scope to make an impact” of any group in society, the report identifies a series of mental health core standards—actions which all organisations, regardless of their size, should be capable of implementing. The report calls on employers to:
The report also recommends the implementation of mental health enhanced standards for all public sector employers, and private sector businesses with over 500 employees. These enhanced standards centre on:
As explored in our previous blog , the UK statistics on mental health are worrying. 70 million working days are lost each year due to mental health illness, costing the economy as a whole around £74 - £99 billion. At least 1 in 4 of us will experience some kind of mental health problem each year, with anxiety and depression being the most common. Only 1 in 3 men feel able to speak openly about their mental health problems in their place of work (as compared with 2 in 5 women).
It should therefore come as no surprise that the focus of the latest report is on making a tangible difference across the employment spectrum.
Whilst recommending that businesses make practical changes on the ground, the latest report also calls upon:
Addressing mental health illness in the workplace is squarely on the Government’s agenda. With this in mind, it is likely that businesses will be required to adopt some (if not all) of the report’s recommendations within the next few years.
In any event, even if they are not expressly obliged to do so, employers would be well advised to implement what recommendations they can. It is a matter of best practice, good business sense and, frankly, social responsibility.
If you would like any further information or advice about the implications of the Thriving At Work report, mental health in the workplace, or any other issues explored in this blog, please contact Francesca Lopez, Richard Fox, or another member of our Employment team.
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