Check out Mind’s guide to implementing the mental health core standards

Employers have made a lot of progress over the past few years in supporting people’s mental health. But the important Stevenson-Farmer ‘Thriving at Work’ review of mental health and employers published in autumn 2017 still showed ‘that the UK is facing a mental health challenge at work that is much larger than we had thought.’

This perspective was backed up by findings from the CIPD/Simplyhealth Health and Well-being at Work 2018 survey report published in May 2018: over a fifth (22%) of people professionals reported that mental ill health is the primary cause of long-term absence in their organisation compared with 13% in 2016. There was also a significant rise in the number reporting an increase in common mental health conditions among employees. Hopefully, the fact that many more organisations are raising awareness of mental health issues across their workforces (51% in 2018 versus 31% in 2016) is fostering a more open culture where employees are more willing to talk about their mental health.

Although most employers are taking action to support people with mental ill health, only half think their efforts are effective. This percentage could be improved dramatically if more organisations developed a stronger framework to promote good mental health as well as one that supports people if they become unwell. The ‘Thriving at Work’ review introduced six ‘mental health core standards’ that every employer should adopt. These six standards are drawn from best practice, are evidence based and set out the key actions that organisations need to focus on to develop an effective framework. The core standards call on every employer to:

• Produce, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan
• Develop mental health awareness among employees
• Encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling
• Provide employees with good working conditions and ensure they have a healthy work life balance and opportunities for development
• Promote effective people management through line managers and supervisors;
• Routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing.

The core standards are achievable for any organisation, but clearly there are a lot of different factors to take into account when developing a framework that is suitable for your own organisation. Mental health charity Mind has published a guide designed to help employers to understand and implement the standards, which is available for free download on the Mental Health at Work gateway. The guide is practical, accessible and sets out the key steps that organisations need to take to implement each of the core standards while ensuring that the end result is holistic and joined up.

Mental Health at Work is an online gateway to resources, training and information that will change the way we approach workplace mental health. It’s funded by The Royal Foundation with Heads Together and developed by Mind and 11 key programme partners from the world of business and mental health, including the CIPD.

As Mind comments: “With 300,000 people losing their jobs due to poor mental health every year, supporting people to have good mental health at work has never been more important.

Whether you are looking to tackle mental health stigma, improve the confidence of your managers in managing mental health or want to measure how your businesses is performing our Thriving at Work guide provides you with a range of ideas to support you.

Mind are proud to work alongside organisations such as the CIPD, who are working hard to tackle mental health stigma and raise awareness of what support is available.”

The CIPD has been working with the Royal Foundation’s Heads Together campaign and Mind to end stigma around mental health and develop the gateway for two years. We hope it will help every employer and employee in the UK to gain a better understanding of mental health at work and feel confident that they have the tools to offer help to others where needed. If you haven’t yet visited the site, take the opportunity now to see if there are resources like the new Mind tool that could support your own strategy to build a mentally healthy workplace.

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