Mental Health and the Management Standards

28 Aug, 2019

In recent years awareness of mental health has increased and whilst we’re talking more, we still have a long way to go as the stigma surrounding mental health still exists.

Mental health relates to how we think, feel and behave.  The most common mental health problems are anxiety and depression and whilst these are often caused by a difficult life event, they can also be caused by work related issues.  Whether work is the cause or not, having a fulfilling job can improve your mental health and general wellbeing.

The facts & figures

  • Around 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem at some point
  • At any one time, 1 in 6 of the population will be experiencing a mental health problem such as anxiety or depression
  • 1 in 5 adults have considered taking their own life at some point
  • Mental health represent the largest single cause of disability in the UK
  • Poor mental health costs the UK economy between £74 billion and £99 billion a year

 The impact of mental health at work

  • An estimated 300,000 people lose their jobs each year due to mental health, and at a much higher rate than those with physical health conditions
  • Mental health is the top cause of long-term absence from work
  • Around 15% of people at work have symptoms of an existing mental health condition
  • The annual cost to employers is between £33 billion and £42 billion
  • Mental health can have a ‘knock on effect’. For example, if an employee takes time off, it can increase the workload of other team members

 How do the management standards address wellbeing?

When you think of the ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety management system, you would be forgiven for automatically thinking about the physical aspects such as tripping hazards and manual handling.

Whilst wellbeing is not a requirement of ISO 45001 it does enable businesses the opportunity to incorporate employee wellbeing in to their management system.

ISO 45001 helps you to identify the needs, expectations and hazards to your team.  At this point, you can identify the need for mental health support which can also be included within your Hazard Assessment.  Consider whether you work in a stressful or challenging environment.  How does this affect your team and how can you help? From here, you can then set yourself objectives and a plan of how you can achieve this, allowing you the opportunity to put the controls in place to eliminate or reduce the impact of these hazards on mental health.

You may also be surprised to learn that the ISO 9001 Quality Management System also takes employee wellbeing in to consideration.  This management standard looks at the social, psychological and physical factors relating to the working environment, allowing you the opportunity to identify any needs to employee wellbeing.

The benefits of addressing wellbeing

  • It improves employee satisfaction and therefore your staff retention
  • It reduces the number of staff sick days
  • It increases productivity by as much as 12%
  • It boosts your business’s profitability, resilience and reputation
  • It improves customer satisfaction and loyalty

What can you do?

The Thriving at Work report, recommends the following:

  1. Produce, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan
  2. Develop mental health awareness among employees
  3. Encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling
  4. Provide your employees with good working conditions
  5. Promote effective people management
  6. Routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing

 For more information and resources, visit the Mental Health at Work website.




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