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HSENI encourages mental health for all

14 October 2020

THE UNPRECEDENTED impact of the current pandemic has affected the mental health of millions of people. HSENI is encouraging employers to embrace the theme of “mental health for all” and ensure workplace mental well-being is a priority.

But what about mental health in Northern Ireland’s workplaces? We already know that work-related stress is a significant issue, making it one of three workplace health priority areas for HSENI. 

In 2018/19 an estimated 16,000 people in NI workplaces suffered from stress, anxiety or depression caused or made worse by work. During the same period it’s believed some 373,000 working days were lost to the local economy though associated staff absences.

Feelings of anxiety, fear and isolation over recent months, not only impact at a personal level, but also on employees within their places of work. Good working relationships and strong support networks have been a great help in seeing us through these challenging times, but these are not the only factors contributing to good mental well-being at work.

Throughout Northern Ireland, many employers have incorporated mental health and well-being programmes into everyday working life. 24 hour counselling services and mobile health checks are some examples of what often serve as the basis of an employee assistance programme. Whilst very worthwhile, the approach should always incorporate preventative measures designed to eliminate the causes of stress, by addressing the underlying issues known to contribute to adverse levels of stress within the workplace.

The old adage of “prevention is better than cure” is very apt.  Utilising the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Management Standards in eliminating workplace stress is an effective way of approaching this issue. 

In support of World Mental Health Day, HSENI is challenging employers to become aware of the range of services it offers to help with the effective management of work-related stress, and help stem the ever growing tide of statistics. These services include the provision of free online webinars for local employers.

Designed for managers who want to learn more about effectively managing work-related stress, the comprehensive webinars, delivered by specialist HSENI advisors, consider why and how employers should manage work-related stress. The legal, moral and financial reasons for managing stress are clearly presented and in-depth consideration is given as to how, in practice, utilising the HSE Management Standards as a resource allows for the effective management of work related stress.

Speaking on the current programme of events on offer, Selina Casey, mental well-being at work advisor stated, “The current move away from face-to-face workshops has proved to be a popular choice with many employers. Many have already availed of the opportunity to engage with advisors in this way and future webinar places are filling up fast."