HR in Focus – How to introduce a sustainable mental health programme

Jessica Tabinor professional services jobs



  •  In our latest blog series ‘HR in Focus’, Morson HR Recruitment Manager, Craig Saxby, delves deeper into discussion points raised by HR industry leaders. 

  • This week we explore introducing a sustainable mental health programme into the workplace.

Last month Morson was proud to host The North West Talent Forum in partnership with Primeast. The forum brought together HR professionals, ex-police officers and business owners to discuss and learn how to introduce a sustainable mental health programme within a business.

Primeast specialises in leadership development and organisational consulting. They partner with businesses all over the country to transform their capability and develop leaders to meet the challenges of an unpredictable world.

The event brought together likeminded individuals with the same unique goal – solving the most difficult challenges in the HR industry. In our latest blog series ‘HR in Focus’, Morson HR Recruitment Manager, Craig Saxby, delves deeper into discussion points raised by HR industry leaders.  This week we explore introducing a sustainable mental health programme into the workplace.

THE CHALLENGE - How to introduce a sustainable mental health programme

Positively, mental health is front of mind for many organisations. In 2017 alone, ​12.5 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety. It is believed that one in four of us will experience mental illness at some point in our lives and almost half (46%) of those living with a mental health condition hide it from their colleagues and employer. Therefore, it is essential that workplaces respond to the needs of their workforce. Initiatives to reduce stigmas, education for line managers on spotting the signs of mental ill-health and providing confidential support are steps which organisations can take to care for their employee's mental wellbeing.  

At Morson International, we have seen an increase in the number of employees coming forward to express their own struggles with mental illness and seek support. This change in attitudes presented the opportunity to strengthen our own workplace priorities towards mental health by developing effective engagement strategies that tackle the core issues. In doing so, this has enabled us to attract and retain our talented people, driv­­­e productivity and innovation and reap numerous commercial benefits that set us apart from many of our competitors.

Creating a mental health policy

For many businesses, addressing mental health problems at the workplace will begin with the development of a policy. A mental health policy for the workplace can help leaders to define the vision for improving mental health in the workplace and to establish a plan of action going forward.

In order to ensure consistency and implement a clear direction, a mental health policy for the workplace can be developed separately, or as part of a broader wellbeing policy. Either way, its best practice to follow the below steps:

  • Analysing the mental health issues.
  • Developing the policy.
  • Developing strategies to implement the policy.
  • Implementing and evaluating the policy

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Aligning a mental health programme across the business

One of the most difficult components of developing a sustainable mental health programme is how to align it across an entire business. Perhaps you have a large number of branch offices? You want to support both customers and employees?

Implementing a mental health programme involves more than introducing a random collection of initiatives. One size certainly doesn’t fit all when it comes to mental health and so to create a programme that effectively promotes workplace wellbeing whilst aligning it to all parts of your business, you must ensure it can be flexible and individual. You need to think about which programmes suit your workplace best, consider cost-effectiveness and seek employee input.

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In order to gather the initial employee input and to find out what kind of support your business requires, you may consider running workshops, health checks or even create a business-wide survey to complete the initial research.

Examples of mental health resources you can implement right now
  • Use technology – there are a number of fantastic apps such as Headspace, Talkspace and Thrive.

  • MHFA - Mental Health First Aiders are colleagues who are trained to spot the signs and symptoms of mental ill-health and provide help on a first aid basis in the same way that a physical first aider would. They’re able to recognise the warning signs of mental ill-health or emotional distress, approach discussions in a sensitive and non-judgemental manner, and guide people to appropriate resources if they need them.

  • Employee Assistance Program – find the right program and implement it within your business to offer external support for someone who may not want to seek help internally.

  • Train managers, train employees – Create the leadership that you want rather than waiting for it to arrive on its own.

  • Create a safe environment - Create safe, quiet places for employees to take a moment out of the day, encourage getting out of the office. Think about alternative workspaces such as standing desks or chairs that are better for the body and mind.

  • Ensure the right policies are in place – policies for sick leave, parenting, domestic issues etc need to be clear.

Stay tuned for our next HR in Focus blog next week! 

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