What Is Your Company Policy?
Does your employer have any policies covering the area of mental health? Do you know where they are and what they say?
OK, so company policies aren't the most exciting things to read during your lunch break but understanding your company policy will give you priceless information about how to support your employees.
Knowing the policies will give you credibility when talking to staff. It will also enable employees to know what they can expect from your organisation.
If your company doesn't have a mental health policy, then it will be important to find out and understand your duties under the Equality Act (opens in new tab or window).
ACAS (opens in new tab or window) - The Arbitration Conciliation and Advisory Service, can help with things like employment law as will your company's solicitor.
Talk to your HR manager about developing a mental health policy.
Should My Workplace Develop A Mental Health Policy?
Every company should think about developing a mental health policy.
There are three simple steps to developing a policy.
What are existing levels of stress and mental ill health in your workplace? In what way is the organisation's structure and functions contributing?
There are organisations that can come in and help you assess the wellbeing of your organisation. If that isn't an option for your organisation try out the health check questions we've put together.
2. Developing the policy
This should outline the importance of the policy for the organisation and explain how the policy fits in with other company policies such as sickness absence, and things like alcohol and drug misuse policies.
The policy should outline a commitment to promoting and monitoring mental health at work, and acknowledge the importance of creating a "safe environment" for employees and their mental wellbeing i.e. using reasonable efforts to ensure the workplace is free from bullying and harassment. The policy should stress what can be done to support staff with mental health problems and cover the area of employing people with mental health problems.
The policy can be broken down into:
- Other HR policies
- Organisational philosophy and commitment on health promotion and mental ill health prevention
- Details of the auditing process
- Monitoring and evaluation
- Costs of implementation
3. Implementing the policy
When converting the policy into practice it's important to consider that it needs to be supported by senior management who will effectively communicate it to all employees. Ensure staff know who to approach in the first instance for help. Bring in awareness training around mental health for staff and continue to monitor the effectiveness of the policy.