If you’re reading this and thinking you don’t have an employee mental health policy in place and have no idea where to start, or you’re not happy with the one you currently have in place, then don’t worry.
While there is no right or wrong when it comes to what should be in your own mental health policies, our 10 experts have got these tips to help you either get the ball rolling or tweaking whatever you’ve got in place already.
There is no shortage of reasons why an employer should care about workplace mental health. From being the right thing to do, to building a culture of health, to improving productivity and retention, employers have numerous reasons to make employee mental health a priority. If a company does not have a policy in place, the best place to start is to make sure the company culture makes employees feel comfortable talking about mental health. Employees should not feel as if they need to hide this problem and fight it alone. Employers can then look to providing other benefits, such as mental health coverage.
Nick Patel, CEO of Wellable.
It is really important to bring mental health policies to the front of your HR plan if they aren’t already. I would encourage companies to join networks like the Mindful Employer Charter which offers a plethora of resources to help you implement an effective plan to help your employees.
Another great source of inspiration for future policy is researching other companies similar to your own to see what they are up to with regard to HR policy. Information from other companies can help inspire strategy and future policy. There are also plenty of seminars, webinars and research available online which offers a springboard to other resources.
Renae Shaw, Head of HR at Search Laboratory.
The main thing is awareness of the costs associated with unaddressed mental health issues. Research by the APA has clearly shown that missing or ineffective policies lead to losses in productivity, revenue, employee retention, morale, and more. It is clearly in the interests of employers to establish and maintain effective policies and benefits.
Dr. Lee Keyes, is a Psychologist and Emeritus Director at the University of Alabama.
For employers who are at the start of their journey the first step is to raise awareness of mental health with employees. This could include providing expert information through the Mental Health at Work Gateway or signposting for support and rolling out mental health awareness training for staff. Additionally, they can:
- Make a public commitment – make a commitment to take action and change how we think and act about mental health in the workplace by signing the Time to Change Employers Pledge
- Review current policy – audit and review current policy and practice in relation to staff mental health through Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index
- Take action – Improve workplace wellbeing through action plans, training, and consultancy
- Evaluate – monitor mental health and wellbeing and assess where the gaps lie between the approach to workplace wellbeing and staff perceptions via the Workplace Wellbeing Index.
Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind.
To create a mental health policy that positively impacts the bottom line, it is important to define goals. Determine if anything in the workplace could be creating undue stress. If so, use resolving these issues as the starting point for your policy.
Then, research and write a formal policy, seeking the necessary legal advice and consult with a mental health advocate to ensure your plan is as relevant as possible.
Policies should outline ongoing education and training, once introduced. This is essential so everyone is aware of your new mental health legislation and feels confident discussing it.
Brendan Street, Professional Head of Emotional Wellbeing at Nuffield Health.
Get one! There are many charities who are able to assist with consulting, training, coaching and counselling services. I work with Mind in Mid Herts who have a fantastic team willing to help companies of all sizes to ensure that everyone who is touched by mental ill health gets the support they need.
Shona Davies, Founder of Shona Davies Consulting.
The first step is to talk to your employees and find out in what areas they feel they most need mental health support. We often associate employee wellbeing with just the physiological and mental/emotional side of wellbeing but the reality is that there are many more, equally important parts to it. For example, the social element –creating an environment that’s inclusive where colleagues feel comfortable, or the material one – such as an office space that’s comfortable and appealing. They all impact employee mental wellbeing and should be given equal attention.
It may be an idea to do an anonymous survey with employees, so that they can be as open as possible about how they are feeling. As an employer you can then use this feedback to create a mental health policy that is tailored to the needs of your employees, helping create a safe and supportive environment for everyone in your office.
Chieu Cao, Co-Founder of Perkbox.
Take steps to find out what’s really going on with your employees – ask them how you could support them with their mental health. Working with a company such as ourselves can help as we can advise on how to implement your mental health policy from start to finish, ensure maximum engagement and crucially ensure that you have the happiest and most productive employees you can have.
Lucy Faulks, Co-founder of Elevate.
If you want to create a culture that supports staff to be open about their mental health, it is vital to:
- a) Develop a strategy / policy that demonstrates your commitment to staff mental wellbeing
- b) Provide Mental Health Awareness Training for all staff – this will develop understanding and will encourage your staff to talk about mental health and wellbeing.
Paula Whelan, Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Right Track Learning.
I would make the case that mental health is an increasingly impactful problem in society. Providing help is a strategy for a healthier workforce, which will, in turn, be a more productive workforce. I think that’s how you make the case for it. Not all companies have a core value of putting people first like CHG, but all companies think about making money. We are a progressive company in the way we treat our people and the services we provide. As other companies start to move in this direction, they will see the results we have seen, which is being able to help and keep good people here at our organization.
I know that including mental health resources into our benefits program has worked because we have a full-time counselor here in our onsite clinic that is completely booked and we are hiring a second person. I have heard about the value people have received and it’s inspiring that people are taking care of themselves and working through their issues.
Nicole Thurman, Vice President, Talent Management at CHG Healthcare.