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Do you know how to manage and support mental health in your workplace?

View profile for Gina McCadden
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Today is World Mental Health Day; a time to raise awareness of the impact mental health has on us all, and educate us on how to support those suffering. Gina McCadden, Solicitor in our Employment team, here reviews the significance of the day and demonstrates to employers their responsibilities towards their employees’ mental health.

Poor mental health in employees can have a significant impact on the workplace environment.  According to a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development study, 37% of sufferers are more likely to get into conflict with colleagues, 57% find it harder to juggle multiple tasks, 80% find it difficult to concentrate and 50% are potentially less patient with clients.  Promoting a positive, welcoming and approachable working environment is key to tackling the first step of mental health; to ensure your employees feel they can discuss any problems they may have, reducing stress and anxiety which is major contributor towards rising sickness levels.

An employer has a duty of care towards their employees and some forms of mental ill health can be classed as a disability under the Equality Act 2010, such as depression, dementia, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder, as they can have “a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”.

An employer’s equality policies must include reference to mental health as a disability, as they could be open to disability discrimination claims should they be found to be treating an employee unfairly due to their mental illness, or for failing to make any reasonable adjustments to either their working patterns or any formal processes.

Any sickness policies should also make reference to mental health illnesses, and place them with the same importance of any physical illness.  Having a stress at work policy or even a dedicated mental health policy will offer a basis of training to your managers on how to spot the signs of stress and how to correctly respond to any such concerns.  This will also show any employment tribunal that you take the matter seriously.

Of course, having the policies in place will only go so far in creating the optimum working environment to not only spot any signs of mental health illness; training and employee engagement are crucial in creating a workplace that can help reduce any possible causes of mental health illnesses and be accepting of any issues employees and colleagues may have.

If you’re interested in adapting your existing policies or creating new sickness or mental health policies in your workplace then you can contact Gina or the Employment Team on 02380 717717 or email employment@warnergoodman.couk.  The team are also able to offer any dedicated training you may wish to deliver to your managers regarding mental health.


This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.