mental health counselling at work



Research has shown that over 66% of us will suffer from mental health problems during our lifetime, and as employers or employees we need to ask, “What is the role that our company needs to play in identifying and helping alleviate these problems?”

There are many factors that influence the mental state of employees – some external factors such as family issues, financial problems or health problems can be contributing factors.

However, a key factor can also be workplace stress – many of us work in fast-paced, highly-stressful industries with speed of delivery, high client expectations and a highly competitive marketplace causing constant pressure.

The reality is that this environment is unlikely to change anytime soon, and with many employers across many different industries all hiring from the same limited pool of talent, it makes a lot of sense for employers to create an environment where employees are cared for both financially, physically and mentally.

So how do we make a start with this? Do we need “Google-style” sleep pods, more employee holidays, free food throughout the day, in-house massage and spa and free health insurance included as part of our package ?

Sadly, while these would be great (although perhaps just ‘sticky-plaster’) remedies, the reality is with 99.5% of business across all industry sectors being SMEs, these sorts of stress-alleviating perks are not affordable or sustainable for the majority.

And in practical terms, there are a number of things that an employer should and legally must do to protect the mental wellbeing of their staff.

Legally, employers must operate within health & safety and employment law, as well as the common law duty of care.

At a moral level, employers have an ethical duty not to cause, or fail to prevent, physical or psychological injury, and must fulfil their responsibilities with regard to personal injury and negligence claims.

Duty of care responsibilities are wide-ranging and include:

  • Clearly defining jobs and undertaking risk assessments
  • Ensuring a safe work environment
  • Providing adequate training and feedback on performance
  • Ensuring that staff do not work excessive hours
  • Providing areas for rest and relaxation
  • Protecting staff from bullying or harassment, either from colleagues or third parties
  • Protecting staff from discrimination
  • Providing communication channels for employees to raise concerns
  • Consulting employees on issues which concern them.

As employers, it is thus essential to create the easiest, safest and most openly-communicated systems of support so that employees feel able to speak freely when they need help or advice.

For guidance or advice on how to establish workplace wellbeing best practice for your organisation, contact Officescape LLP today.

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