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June 29, 2012

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Organisations sign up to employee mental-health pledge

A small group of organisations has made a commitment to adopt new government guidance into their HR procedures, in an effort to help manage employees with mental-health conditions in the best way possible.

The new Public Health Responsibility Deal pledge, ‘Mental Health Adjustments’, was launched earlier this week by Health minister Lord Howe, at the Work Foundation. Organisations that have signed up to the pledge include: the manufacturing sector’s umbrella body EEF; EDF Energy; dairy company Roddas; The Work Foundation; contract caterer Bartlett Mitchel; the Charity for Civil Servants; the Centre for Mental Health; Christie NHS Foundation Trust; and the Department of Health.

Speaking at the launch, Health Minister Lord Howe said: “A good working environment is crucial for our well-being – and it can help aid the recovery of mental-health conditions. However, stigma and lack of understanding means many remain unemployed, or under-utilised. This Responsibility Deal pledge will help employers think through the simple steps they can make to help.”

The Equality Act 2010 outlines an employer’s duty to make reasonable adjustments for people with disabilities, including mental-health conditions, to help them gain, or stay in employment. According to The Equality and Human Rights Commission, the average cost is just £75, which can far outweigh the costs associated with failing to manage mental health.

Dame Carol Black, chair of the Responsibility Deal health at work network, which developed the pledge, commented: “Mental-health conditions cost UK businesses £8.4 billion in sickness absence and a further £15.1 billion in lost productivity. For business, economic and moral reasons, it is therefore important that employers play their part in supporting people with such conditions to retain their jobs, and, when they are absent, in enabling them to return to work as soon as they can.

“Thoughtful, well-informed management in respect of employees’ mental and physical health can produce real benefits. Besides reduced sickness absence those benefits include better staff engagement, improved productivity, and reduced staff turnover.”

The guidance developed as part of the pledge is intended to help employers consider the types of adjustments at work that they can make for people with mental-health conditions. They include practical advice and links to other resources, which might help them support job retention and return to work.

Director of the Centre for Workforce Effectiveness at the Work Foundation Stephen Bevan, who led the team that developed the guidance, warned that everyone’s experience of mental ill-health is different and that two people with a diagnosis of depression may have very different symptoms and need different adjustments when returning to work.

He added: “Employers need to have an open, honest and practical conversation with the person about how their mental-health condition impacts their work and what adjustments can be made. It’s important to focus on what the person can do – not what they can’t.”

The guidance is available at:

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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