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Employers duties toward mental health

Posted: 15/07/19 by HR Solutions

Employers duties toward mental health

As awareness of the scale of mental health issues is growing rapidly, with that follows the need to increase our understanding of how people experiencing mental ill health can be supported in the workplace.

The Government’s Department of Health advises that at least one in four of us will experience mental ill health at some point in our lives. According to Acas, the most common forms of mental ill health are anxiety, depression, phobic anxiety disorders and obsessive compulsive disorders.

Employers have a duty of care toward their employees; a duty to make ‘reasonable adjustments’; a duty to provide a safe working environment; and a duty to prevent foreseeable injury.

Support with mental wellbeing in the workplace can lead to a happier and more dedicated team of staff and can also help to reduce the severity, duration and quantity of mental ill health issues that may arise in the workplace.

Spotting the signs of mental ill health

The earlier an employer is aware that someone is struggling with mental ill health, the sooner they may be able to step in and offer support which may prevent it from becoming more serious. There may not always be obvious signs that someone is struggling with mental health issues and so general advice is to have regular one-to-ones with employees in an environment which feels private and safe to speak in.

Some signs of mental ill health (and also stress) include:

• Changes in behaviour, mood and interactions with others

• Changes in their performance and standard of work

• Appearing tired, anxious, withdrawn or reduced interest

• Changes in appetite, increased smoking or drinking alcohol

• Higher than normal absences or lateness.

Mental health support strategy

Although employers and managers are not expected to be experts in mental health, Acas advise that employers should know where they and their team can go for further support both internally and externally.

In a recent HR Solutions webinar recording, which you can watch on demand, we discussed 5 ways in which employers and managers can use HR approaches to begin to form a wellbeing strategy and support employees who may be experiencing mental health issues. The five key areas include culture, mental health champions and first aiders, wellness action plans, employee assistance programmes (EAP) and adjustments.

Further HR Guidance

• Watch the HR Solutions webinar recording ‘5 Ways Managers Can Support Mental Health at Work’, at

• View further sources of information about how employers can support their workforce via Mind, the mental health charity and Acas, the advisory, conciliation and arbitration service.

HR Knowledge Base: this online resource is the go-to resource for thousands of business owners and managers across the UK. The HR Knowledge Base includes HR documents, templates, legal updates, news and hot topic articles as well as access to free webinars and HR seminars. To find out more call 0844 324 5840 or visit

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