Firms at risk if they fail to tackle mental health

Attitudes towards mental health issues, despite some much needed progress over the years, still present a tricky situation for British businesses, reports SHP Online.

A survey conducted by market research company TNS revealed that around 20 per cent of UK workers held deeply sceptical views about colleagues taking time off work for mental health problems. And while 48 per cent had worked with people with mental health problems in the past, 21 per cent still believed that those who had previously suffered with mental health issues were less able to do the job properly compared with other employees.

Employees with mental health problems may therefore feel that they will be judged in a negative way if they attempt to seek help or take time off work in order to recover. They may also feel embarrassed to come back to work after a long period of recovery.

This brings up two problems for UK businesses: mental health stigmas may keep employees off work for long periods of time, and it could leave the business open to employers’ liability claims. In addition to having policies in place for dealing with mental health issues, it is your responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of your employees at work. As well as good mental health policies, your firm should consider employers’ liability insurance in addition to your general business insurance.

Stress and mental ill-health are two of the main causes of long-term sickness, according to the Absence Management Survey 2015 carried out by the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD). There is a chance the rising incidents of work-related stress could increase the volume of employer’s liability claims, especially with the rise of ‘no win, no fee’ lawyers keen to take on employment cases.

According to SHP Online, businesses should not only tackle illness when it occurs, but also be proactive when it comes to ensuring employee healthcare and well-being. After all, prevention is better than cure.