Mental Health at Work
Publish Date: 08/10/2012
If you work then you’ll know how much of your time you spend in the workplace, often surrounded by colleagues. Having a routine is thought to be one of the best things we can do for our mental health and wellbeing, and going to work can be one of the easiest ways to achieve that.
However, if you’re already experiencing a mental health problem, going through a difficult time or experiencing things like stress or insomnia and you’re not feeling supported at work, then it can make it even more difficult to cope.
Mental health problems are one of the leading causes of work-related absence, the most common being depression, anxiety and stress. These may be caused by issues at work, but may be unrelated, either way there are benefits to talking to your employer about your mental health, and there are things they can to do which could help.
Under the Equality Act 2010, employers are no longer able to discriminate against anyone because of a mental illness and they should be willing and able to make reasonable adjustments which can help you to stay in work. To be covered by this law, a disability must be something which has ‘a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
- 'Substantial’ means not minor or trivial;
- 'Long term’ means over a year in duration (includes mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and eating disorders)
Reasonable adjustments your employer might make can include:
- Allocating some of your work (specifically parts that are impossible for you to do) to another person
- Changing or reducing working hours
- Working from a different location (such as working from home)
- Moving to a different job within the organisation (if there’s a vacancy)
- Adjustment of or purchasing new equipment to allow you to do your job
- Providing additional support or supervision
- Allowing time off for appointments
The possible adjustments you could be eligible for do depend on your workplace and their ability to make changes to your role and tasks, so it’s worth checking out with your manager or human resources department to see if you have a policy around this. Your employer may also have an employee health scheme, which could give you access to things like occupational therapy or counselling. If you’re not sure whether or not you have this, your manager should be able to you some further information.
If you have to take off from work, try to keep in touch with your employer throughout this time. During this time, you might also want to talk to your GP who could help you to look at your work and plan any changes that would be helpful. When you’re ready to return to work, it’s a good idea to have a ‘return to work’ meeting with your employer to discuss any reasonable adjustments or changes that may need to be considered to help you to transition smoothly back into work. You may also want to book in regular meetings to review how things are going and keep your employer informed of how you’re getting along being back at work.
If you’d like to read more on mental health at work, then we recommend the following websites:
Time to Change - http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/your-organisation/support-workplace
MIND - www.mind.org.uk
Direct Gov - http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/DisabledPeople/DG_201750
If you need to talk to someone about your mental health, whether it’s work-related or not, then you can call us on 0845 3 30 30 30 (10am – 10pm 7 days a week)