The ‘Taboo’ subject of Mental Health

So, after the longest winter and the coldest spring I can remember, the weather has finally started to improve, and it got me thinking about the subject of mental health.

Health has been considered a relatively Taboo subject for so many years and has not been a significant subject of discussion. Regardless of your view on the subject, it is important to understand that stress, depression and anxiety accounts for 51% of all work-related ill health cases and 55% of all working days lost due to work-related ill health. This equates to around 11 million working days every year.

Stress impacts on all sectors and businesses of all sizes, and employers have a legal duty to protect employees from stress at work by completing a suitable and sufficient Risk Assessment. This includes identifying risk and introducing appropriate controls to reduce or manage that risk.

According to the HSE, evidence suggests that there are six key factors which, if not properly managed, are associated with poor health, lower productivity and increased accident and sickness absence rates.

  • Demands: workload, work patterns and the work environment
  • Control: how much say the person has in the way they do their work
  • Support: encouragement, sponsorship and resources available to workers
  • Relationships: promoting positive working to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour
  • Role: whether people understand their role within the organisation and whether the organisation ensures that they do not have conflicting roles
  • Change: how change (large or small) is managed and communicated.

HSE has a range of practical support and guidance available including risk assessment templates, toolkits, workbooks, posters, a new mobile app and a stress indicator tool (SIT). More information can be found on the HSE webpages via the link below:

Stress at work - HSE

The HSE bespoke mobile app:

As mentioned above, the HSE has introduced a new app, primarily for businesses to help them better understand the law and what is required to protect employees. In fact, I would urge anyone in the H&S field to check out the app because it includes some helpful tools and advice that can be adapted to any workplace including:

  • - The Health and Safety Toolbox (HSG268)
  • - A guide to managing risk
  • - Work-related stress

Our accident rate is still 18 times higher than the UK industry average, so in the words of an old schoolteacher … sit up and pay attention!