unlike physical sickness and disabilities, which are often apparent or discussed openly, mental health conditions can prove more difficult to spot
HR and diversity consultancy, The Clear Company, has voiced support for Theresa May’s proposal to commission a review on mental health in the workplace.
The pledge is part of a comprehensive package of measures designed to transform mental health support in schools, workplaces and communities.
The Prime Minister has appointed Lord Dennis Stevenson, the long-time campaigner for greater understanding and treatment of mental illness, and Paul Farmer CBE, CEO of Mind and Chair of the NHS Mental Health Taskforce, to lead the review on how best to ensure employees with mental health problems are enabled to thrive in the workplace and perform at their best.
The government plans to offer practical help including promoting best practice and learning from ‘trailblazer’ employers, as well as offering tools to organisations to assist with employee well-being and mental health. It will also review recommendations around discrimination in the workplace on the grounds of mental health.
Commenting on the announcement, Kate Headley, Director at diversity consultancy, The Clear Company, said:
“According to NHS England, almost 50 per cent of long-term absences from work are the result of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. However, unlike physical sickness and disabilities, which are often apparent or discussed openly, mental health conditions can prove more difficult to spot.
“However, a recent report from Lancaster University’s Work Foundation suggests that around one in six people of working age are experiencing mental health problems at any one time. Furthermore, employers often misinterpret cognitive symptoms - including poor concentration, difficulty with decision-making and negative thinking - so people with mental health problems are at a higher risk of losing their jobs. According to Mind, people with mental health problems often fall out of work because they haven’t been adequately supported in their job. But falling out of employment usually makes people more unwell, and those taking time off for more than six months have only a 20 per cent chance of returning to work in the next five years.
“With this in mind, we welcome May’s commitment to supporting mental health in the workplace specifically. In theory, her proposed strategy to help promote best practice and educate employers seems like a sensible way to challenge and change perceptions.
“While I don’t doubt May’s altruistic motives, the business case for engaging with diverse talent should not be ignored. Organisations which fail to adequately engage with, and support, candidates and employees with mental health conditions and and other non-visible disabilities are effectively discounting a quarter of all available candidates. For line mangers who wish to attract, support and retain valuable employees, despite any health conditions, there is plenty of third party support and free tools already available. For example, Clear Talents allows any organisation to effectively explore the needs of every individual employee and to manage the delivery of appropriate interventions through self-help guidance.”
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