Mental Health in the Workplace

More than just a matter of concern for those individuals struggling to cope, the knock-on financial effects of poor mental health to businesses now costs a considerable £45 billion in mental health-related absenteeism, staff turnover and productivity issues. Stress, anxiety and depression alone total 12.8 million lost days per year.

Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace

When looking at managing mental wellbeing and stress from an organisational perspective, there are two key aspects you need to consider:

  1. Preventing mental ill health caused by work.
  2. Dealing with mental ill health when an individual is at work (whether or not the cause is work).

Duty of care to employees

Employers have a duty of care under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) to protect the health, safety and welfare of all employees at work, which includes from psychological hazards. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has identified six key areas of work design that, if not properly managed, are associated with poor health, lower productivity, increased accident and sickness absence rates and can cause stress in the workplace.

Contact Us

The Management Standards are:

DEMANDS - workload, work patterns and work environment
CONTROL - how much say the person has in the way they do their work
SUPPORT - amount of encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by the organisation, manager and colleagues
RELATIONSHIPS – promoting positive ways to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour
ROLE – whether people understand their role and ensuring no conflicting roles
CHANGE – how organisational change is managed and communicated

Preventing and Managing Mental Health in the Workplace

Have a good mental health policy in place.

Ensure employee wellbeing is integrated into other policies where appropriate.

Consider wellbeing strategies, such as lunch and learn sessions, wellbeing champions and wellbeing campaigns.

The organisational stress risk assessment should be communicated with employees and reviewed regularly to ensure that risks are well controlled.

Have a positive culture. Good leadership and management behaviours are important. Lack of managerial support is the most common reason cited for stress, anxiety and depression due to work factors.

Consider having an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)/Mental Health First Aiders for support to help employees before their health deteriorates or if their health has already started to deteriorate.

The role of the line manager and good communication is important as this has a direct impact on how employees feel. It is important to be able to have: open and honest dialogue; the manager is likely to identify changes in behaviour that could be indicative of problems; the manager should act as a role model; the manager is the gatekeeper to be able to take action and provide appropriate support to reduce the risk of ill health occurring.

Encourage and promote healthy lifestyles and healthy work practices, such as healthy food options available, flexibility to adjust working hours to be able to go to the gym or exercise during the day, meditation sessions and screen breaks.

Conduct an organisation-wide stress audit. This looks at the HSE management standards (the six key areas of work pressures identified by the Health and Safety Executive). This involves employees answering questions on the six areas. Ideally this should be done in teams, so that hotspots can be identified. The idea is to spot trends to help prevent problems for all employees, rather than identify specific individuals that have a problem. Once the key areas of pressure are identified, an action plan needs to be written to identify possible solutions. This ideally should have each team member’s input. The HSE have a number of tools to assist with this.

Mental health resources

Mental health support for small business leaders


Supporting workplace mental health and wellbeing in Covid-19 and beyond


Developing a Covid-19 secure mental health and wellbeing strategy


Supporting mental health in the workplace

  • Training line managers to identify when there may be a problem and how to manage it.
  • Use and promote an EAP/Mental Health First Aiders. An EAP helps employees deal with personal problems that might adversely affect their work performance, health and wellbeing.
  • Perform an individual stress risk assessment if an employee is struggling at work due to mental ill-health.
  • Identify possible temporary adjustments that may help an employee, such as reduced hours, flexibility, more breaks to manage symptoms, reduced responsibilities, longer deadlines and working from home. Talk to the person – they may be the best judge of what would help them at that time.
  • Occupational health referral to understand fitness for work or appropriate adjustments to support the employee at work.

We can help support you with managing all aspects of mental health at work. We can provide help with:

  • Mental health policy development
  • Organisational and individual stress risk assessments
  • Employee Assistance Programme
  • Counselling or wellbeing support for employees
  • Mental Health First Aid training
  • Management training on mental health issues in the workplace
  • Stress management and resilience training for employees and managers
  • Workplace wellbeing programmes

Find out how we can support you in managing mental health in the workplace.


I’ve known Debbie ever since I started my business over eight years ago. Whenever I’ve needed occupational health support, Debbie is right there for me. She has never let me down and everything she has done for me has been of the highest quality. Her professionalism and understanding of the subject is second to none and I have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending her services to anyone that needs an occupational health service.

Stuart Falconer, HR Consultant, Morgan Thomson HR

I have worked with Debbie on a number of occasions and she has become my ‘go to’ occupational health advisor. She is both professional and pragmatic, builds a great rapport with employees and employers alike and produces reports in quick time. Quite simply, the best OH advisor I have worked with.

Jon Phillips, HR Consultant, Calium HR

SA Law has enlisted the expert assistance of Debbie Holder for occupational health support over a number of years on behalf of numerous clients. We have always found her to be approachable and helpful in what can often be very difficult circumstances for our clients. Her advice is timely, comprehensive and comes at a very reasonable fee when compared with a number of other occupational health providers. We would have no hesitation in recommending her services to others.

Chris Cook, Partner, Head of Employment and Data Protection, SA Law

Debbie is our trusted advisor for OH matters and we regularly refer our clients to her. Debbie’s approach means her advice and reporting is always clear and concise and has really helped our clients navigate some tricky situations. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Debbie and Occupational Health Services.

Chris Miles, Assistant Manager, People Solutions, Menzies LLP

I have used Occupational Health Services for a range of employee health matters. I find the service very responsive, flexible, medically sound and professional taking into consideration both the employees’ and employers’ situation. The reports are detailed to a high standard to allow the business to review possible support and the next steps with the employee and Occupational Health Services will always advise if a further assessment may be needed.

Leanne Taylor, HR Consultant, Beststart HR

After working with a variety of occupational health providers over the years, I have never worked so closely with a provider who genuinely cares about our colleagues but also about our business. Occupational Health Services Ltd understand our business and spend time to understand our colleagues too. They are always at the end of a phone to give advice, support and give confidence to colleagues working with them for the best outcomes for all.

Linsay Baverstock, People Partner, Settle Group

Debbie has been assisting us with all of our OH needs since 2015 and I can honestly say nothing is too much trouble, quick turnaround if needed, with excellent professional assessments and advice given. Would recommend.

Michelle Bolino, Head of HR, Selectaglaze Ltd, St Albans

Occupational Health Services Ltd has greatly assisted many of my clients and their staff in assessing health issues and providing helpful guidance on road maps to improved health and attendance.

Philip Delafield, HR Consultant, Delafield Consulting ltd

We have worked with Occupational Health Services Ltd for eight years now and the service Debbie has provided has been excellent. She always responds to us within a few hours and is very accommodating to our needs. We feel really confident that our employees will have a positive experience with Debbie, even at a time when perhaps they are not positive themselves. As an employer with a relatively lean head count, we do not feel compromised or exposed with the advice Debbie provides to employees, and instead, take real benefit about how best to return employees to full health in the workplace. Would highly recommend.

Pete Howitt, HR Director, ADR Network