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Six steps to improve mental well-being in the workplace

08 October 2020

AWARENESS OF the importance of good mental health at work is growing, but action is also important; CHAS shares some steps for improving mental well-being in the workplace:

1. Produce, implement and promote a mental health plan

According to Thriving at Work: the Stevenson/Farmer review of mental health and employers published in 2017 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/thriving-at-work-a-review-of-mental-health-and-employers all employers, regardless of size or industry should create, implement and communicate a mental health plan.

Formulating a plan can help to demonstrate your commitment to supporting workers’ mental health and enable you to continually review your approach to ensure it’s up-to-date and accounts for changing work conditions - such as those brought about by COVID-19.  

For information on what to include in your mental health plan, as well as details of the other core standards employers should follow to effectively manage mental health, see the HSE’s management standards approach workbook, Tackling work-related stress https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/wbk01.pdf and Mind’s, guide to implementing mental health standards: https://www.mind.org.uk/media-a/4659/how-to-implement-the-thriving-at-work-mental-health-standards-final-guide-online.pdf

2. Encourage staff to complete a Wellness Action Plan (WAP)

Wellness Action Plans (WAPs) are gaining popularity as a tool individuals can use to manage their mental health and become more resilient regardless of whether they have a mental health problem. 

Workplace WAPs are an adaptation of the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) system created by mental health recovery advocate, Mary Ellen Copeland, which focuses on mastery of five key principals - hope, personal responsibility, education, self-advocacy and support.

When shared with a manager, a Wellness Action Plan (WAP) can help foster ongoing discussion over what keeps an employee well at work and when and why they might become unwell.

An example WAP template is available from the mental health charity MIND here: https://www.mind.org.uk/workplace/mental-health-at-work/taking-care-of-your-staff/employer-resources/wellness-action-plan-download/ 

3. Consider offering an Employee Assistance Programme 

An Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is a benefit programme offered by some employers. It can help support employees dealing with personal issues that might impact their work by providing access to counselling and referral services.

Those without an EAP who work in construction in the UK and Ireland can make use of the Construction Industry Helpline:  www.constructionindustryhelpline.com

4. Stay social

The necessity to find new ways of working during the Coronavirus lockdown shone a light on the fact that we are social creatures at heart. 

Many businesses increased their use of online communication tools such as Slack, Zoom and Microsoft Teams during the lockdown period, not just to keep their businesses operational, but also to engage their staff and stave off feelings of social isolation through events such as quizzes. 

Social engagement tools designed to unite the workplace are also growing in popularity. Yammer, part of Office 365, for example enables everyone to share everything from company initiatives to personal achievements.

5Invest in mental health first aiders as well as physical first aiders

According to HSE Guidance, employers might want to consider covering Mental Health First Aid training in addition to First Aid at Work training www.hse.gov.uk/firstaid/needs-assessment.htm

Mental Health First Aid involves spotting the signs and symptoms of common mental health issues, providing non-judgemental support and reassurance, and guiding a person to seek professional support.

Buddy and mentoring systems can also provide an opportunity for employees to support one another’s mental health. 

6. Prioritise mental health throughout your supply chain

Look for evidence that your supply chain takes mental health as seriously as you do by checking that they are accredited by an organisation such as CHAS, or in the case of the construction industry, that they have been assessed to the industry’s Common Assessment Standard. This will give you confidence they have the processes in place to manage and promote mental well-being within their organisations. 

To find out more about how to become a CHAS Client free of charge which includes instant access to CHAS’s database of pre-qualified, accredited contractors, see https://www.chas.co.uk/clients/

To find out more about how to become an accredited CHAS contractor, see www.chas.co.uk/contractors/