The World Health Organisation (WHO) recognises World Mental Health Day on 10th October every year to raise awareness. Mental health is often seen as a taboo subject, so the aim is to improve understanding and encourage mental health to be treated in the same way as physical health.

Our businesses rely on having a healthy and productive workforce, but it is estimated that one in four people experience a mental health problem each year. 

The Centre for Mental Health estimates that every year in the UK a total of 91 million days are lost to mental health problems and nearly half of all long-term sickness absences are caused by a mental health problem. The total annual cost to UK business is more than £30 billion. Given those statistics it makes good business sense to treat good mental health and wellbeing as a priority.

Spotting the signs

Mental distress can affect how people think, feel and act so they may behave or communicate in ways that are unusual for them. You might notice some of the common signs of mental ill health, including:

  • an increase in unexplained absences or sick leave
  • poor performance
  • poor timekeeping
  • poor decision-making
  • lack of energy
  • uncommunicative
  • distressed behaviour

If you suspect an employee or colleague may be suffering from mental distress, it’s important to act sensitively and discretely, offering support without judgement.

Practical steps for employers

There are some practical steps you can take to manage mental health in the workplace:

  • Introduce a mental health and wellbeing policy
    • Introducing a policy demonstrates the company’s commitment to supporting mental health and acts as a framework to help managers deal effectively with any issues as they arise.
  • Provide Mental Health First Aid
    • Think about appointing and training a mental health first aider to support employees as needed.
  • Arrange training
    • Train managers to recognise the signs and symptoms of poor mental health and how to provide support.
  • Encourage good work/life balance
    • Promote flexible working arrangements and encourage staff to discuss any concerns with their workload or personal lives that may need to be addressed.
  • Encourage communication
    • Make mental health a regular topic of conversation and promote a culture of openness where staff can feel safe discussing their mental health.
  • Maintain a healthy work environment
    • Provide a suitable working environment for the tasks to be undertaken – consider privacy, noise, temperature and light levels. Ensure the appropriate training, tools and resources are available for safe working.
  • Clarify Expectations
    • Clearly define the work role and responsibilities, maintain appropriate supervision and set reasonable deadlines.
  • Encourage healthy habits
    • Encourage regular breaks, promote healthy eating and champion exercise. Consider arranging healthy group activities such as regular walking groups or yoga sessions.

Ideas to consider are encouraging employers to “Make time for a power hour”.  What can you do in your company to make mental health priority number one?

“On 10 October, we’re calling on employers to make mental health a priority by setting aside 60 minutes for a ‘Power Hour’ activity in your workplace. Whether it’s a lunch and learn, a Big Mental Health Get Together, an hour of reflection, a team building activity or a late start or early finish to the day – do something within your power for your people. Each moment counts”.

Contact us

Keen to improve your organisation’s approach to mental health and wellbeing but not sure where to start? We can help! Contact us by email: or call us on 01284 336060.