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  • Acas Guidance on Managing Staff Experiencing Mental Ill Health

    17th November 2017

    Far from being a rarity in the work place, Mental Health issues are now at the forefront of concerns in relation to the Health and wellbeing of employees.

    According to government statistics 12.5 million workdays were lost during the financial year 2016/7 due to work stress, anxiety and depression with 526000 workers suffering from these and similar conditions.

    Employers have a dilemma as to how best to respond to this as the factors which will trigger a stress or anxiety response may not always be obvious.

    Each person reacts differently to the various challenges in the work place and  no two situations are the same.It follows therefore  that  employers struggle to identify reasonable adjustments which will enable an employee to return to work after a period of stress related absence.

    The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) has published guidance for employers – 'Promoting Positive Mental Health in the Workplace'. This contains sections on:

    Understanding mental health what can cause

    mental ill health, overcoming the stigma associated with mental illness and complying with legal obligations – i.e. where an employee's mental ill health amounts to a disability, 'reasonable adjustments' must be made to minimise the impact of the individual's disability;

    Making a commitment to improve mental health at work

    developing an action plan to change attitudes, creating a mental health policy and ensuring senior managers are seen to take mental health issues seriously and support staff experiencing problems;

    Identifying ways to improve the workplace

     • how to tackle work-related causes of mental ill health, which includes a list of common causes of Stress, Depression and Anxiety  and potential solutions. 

    • how to ensure there are sufficient resources in place to support staff – internally and externally where necessary – and working with trade union and other employee representatives;

    • educating the workforce about mental health – training managers to deal with mental ill health, ensuring staff are aware of mental health issues and continuing to promote positive mental health in the workplace; 

    Where to go for further support 

    information on where employers can go for additional help and advice and on where to encourage employees to seek additional support.

    The guidance, which can be found at http://www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/o/7/Promoting-positive-mental-health-in-the-workplace.pdf, contains a number of examples to illustrate the points made as well as further information on Acas resources.

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