The core standards to employee well-being in the workplace.

According to a review conducted by Stevenson/Farmer: ‘Thriving at work’ more people with a diagnosed mental health condition are in work now more than ever before. However, many individuals are still struggling emotionally, leaving employment or taking days off work as a result. Did you know, 300,000 people with a long term mental health condition leave employment every year? That’s the same as the whole population of Belfast.

Although there are 1.5 million people in the UK with a diagnosed long-term mental health condition in work and the rate of employment has increased, there are still major hurdles which must be considered and challenges that must be faced. Individuals with long-term mental health conditions are still far less likely to be in work compared to those without a condition. Research has also shown that those people with mental health conditions lose their jobs each year at double the rate of those without a mental health condition and at a higher rate than those with a physical health condition. There are numerous reasons why poor mental health should be a concern in a company. Some of those concerns include absenteeism, presenteeism, limited ability to progress at work, impacts on a wider workforce and, of course, costs.

The first cost addressed in the Stevenson/Farmer review, is that of ‘human cost’ with the ultimate human loss being loss of life through suicide. According to ‘Thriving at Work’: 'We know that rates of poor mental health and suicide are higher for employees in certain industries [...] For example, suicide rates among men working in construction and decorating are 35% higher than for other men, and female nurses are 24% more likely to commit suicide than the national average for women.' The cost to employers is also shocking. Poor mental health costs employers between £33 - 42 billion per year. The cost of poor mental health to the government is between £24 - 27 billion per year while the cost to the UK economy is between £74 - 99 billion per year. So, rather than spending this much on poor mental health, why not spend a small percentage of the overall cost on prevention?

Only 4 in 10 organisations (39%) have policies or systems in place to support employees with common mental health problems. This might be why 8 in 10 employers report no cases of employees disclosing a mental health condition. If there is no support in place, why would anybody come forward? Stevenson and Farmer have developed mental health core standards which they believe all employers can and should follow.

The core standards for mental health in the workplace include:

  • Create, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan which promotes positive mental health of all mental health and outlines the support for those who need it.

  • Develop mental health awareness among employees by making information, tools and support accessible.

  • Encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling, during the recruitment process and at regular intervals throughout employment, offer appropriate workplace adjustments to employees who require them.

  • Provide employees with good working conditions and ensure they have a healthy work life balance and opportunities for development.

  • Promote effective people management to ensure all employees have a regular conversation about their health and well-being with their line manager, supervisor or organisational leader and train and support line managers and supervisors in effective management practices.

  • Routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing by understanding available data, talking to employees, and understanding risk factors.

With this new research, it is clear that 2018 should be the year where positive mental health in employees is prioritised. For more details regarding the core standards and how to support your employees, keep an eye out for next week's blogpost at

Bronwyn SouthrenComment