24 May 2019
Many Managers and Leaders in the work-place are still not equipped with the modern day skills required to manage a diverse and multicultural workforce, particularly in the field of mental health.
Many Leader’s cannot comprehend the responsibilities that lie upon their shoulders and the time has come now that Lawyers have seen the opportunity to raise claims on employers citing the Equality Act 2010 when people are dismissed in relation to their Disability or Illness or treated unfairly.
There are many different topics that we could discuss here under this header. I am going to concentrate on Mental Health in the Work Place.
Training and Education is required to upskill the workforce, particularly, the Management and above. However, all employees should have at least a tool box talk’s discussion ensuring that everybody can at least try to recognise Mental Health triggers.
Firstly, organisations have a duty of care over their employees and secondly, the sooner that the illness is recognised following a trigger, the better. The sooner the employee can get back to better health.
Unfortunately, the NHS is only starting to invest in mental health now, due to recent under funding. I believe that this means that we could expect to wait around 5 to 10 years before we have a mental health system that works and is fit for purpose for mental health across the UK.
There are approximately 32.5 million people in work, just over half of the population of the UK. Thus, if we were to upskill our employees with awareness training, organisations would provide a significant number of people that could be the eyes and ears on the ground who could at least try to signpost people to the right services and introduce the Wellbeing Action Plan ( WAP).
We have also found that workplace audits are very effective in identifying potential issues, they are a very good as a precursor to the WAP. For example, if an employee fills in the audit negatively they may well be candidates to introduce the WAP.
Employers have a significant responsibility and are a significant part of the puzzle. This is not just a clinical issue, this is both a societal and organisational issue also.
Becoming a compliant and responsible employer requires focus. Key issues could be office space planning, wellbeing planning (WAP), reduce repetitive tasks, provide quiet areas and monitor workloads. This is just a few. I personally am very passionate around the area of compliance and I have written extensively in my books and teachings on some of these topics.
I believe that many mental health conditions could now be classed as Disabilities and thus, should be covered under the Equality Act 2010. Therefore, organisations are already required to make reasonable adjustments. Furthermore, employees should be sign posted to the DWP as at the date of writing there is access to work grants that can be payable to support the employee in work.
I heard a security guard recently saying that “some idiot was causing problems throwing items from their balcony and making excessive noise”. Absolutely no thought of could it be due to mental health. Could the person need help or signposted to their doctor, In fact they were contemplating forced entry into the flat to resolve the issue. This is likely to make a bad situation turn even worst because this guard had absolutely no upskilling around mental health. Thankfully the situation resolved itself.
The truth is that employers haven’t upskilled the workforce yet and identifying mental health is very difficult if the employee doesn’t inform the employer of their condition. This is a two way street and this is where wellbeing action plans (WAP) are absolutely essential in creating a safe space for employees to open up in a confidential manner about their health and any adjustments that they may require.
There are many people that still don’t believe mental health exists, they call it a weak mind. When I hear this immediately I counter act with the fact that no one is being asked to accept but they are expected to understand and they are expected to be good citizens and reach out to those that need help whatever their beliefs.
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