One in four people in the UK will have a mental health problem at some point.
While mental health problems are common, most are mild, tend to be short-term & are normally successfully treated, with medication, by a GP.
Mental health is about how we think, feel and behave, anxiety and depression being the most common. They are often caused by a difficult life event, such as relationship issues, money worries and bereavement, but can also be caused by work-related issues.
Work can also aggravate pre-existing conditions, and problems at work can bring on symptoms or make their effects worse.
Whether work is causing the health issue or aggravating it, employers have a legal responsibility to help their employees. A specific Risk Assessment must be completed and where a risk is identified, steps must be taken to remove it or reduce it as far as reasonably practicable.
Work-related stress and mental health problems often go together and the symptoms can be very similar.
Work-related stress can aggravate an existing mental health problem. If work-related stress reaches a point where it has triggered an existing mental health problem, it becomes hard to separate one from the other.
Common mental health problems and stress can exist independently – people can experience work-related stress and physical changes such as high blood pressure, without having anxiety, depression or other mental health problems. They can also have anxiety and depression without experiencing stress. The key differences between them are their cause(s) and the way(s) they are treated.
Stress is a reaction to events or experiences in someone’s home life, work life or a combination of both.
As an employer, you can help manage and prevent stress by improving conditions at work. But you also have a role in making adjustments and helping someone manage a mental health problem at work.
Management require the knowledge and training to identify suspected mental health
conditions and the skills to start a conversation and be able to signpost the person towards professional help, with extra training able to complete a First Aid for Mental Health Action Plan in order to implement a positive mental
health culture within a workplace.