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Factsheet:

Mental health in the workplace

Resource summary

This factsheet was last updated in November 2015.

What is mental health?

We all have mental health, lust as we all have physical health. Both change throughout our lives, and like our bodies, our minds can become unwell. ‘There’s no health without mental health’ was the central and powerful message from the UK’s Department of Health in 2011. A Mental Health Taskforce, formed in March 2015, ‘brings together health and care leaders and experts in the field, including people using services, to lead a programme of work to create a mental health Five Year Forward View for the NHS in England’.

Mental ill health can range from anxiety and depression (the most common mental health problems) to severe mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. The websites of organisations such as Mind and Rethink Mental Illness (see Useful contacts) describe the most common physical and psychological aspects of different mental health issues.

People with mental health problems are not a homogenous group. Individuals will face specific challenges, and some may need little or no support at work. Discrimination against those with mental health problems remains widespread, even though a significant proportion of the workforce will face mental health difficulties during their working life.

The Health and Safety Executive points out that ‘The majority of people with mental health problems are treated by their GP and most are capable of continuing to work productively. Evidence shows that employment can be of great benefit, both to the employer and to the employee.’3

There's a strong business case for organisations to promote good physical and good mental health for all staff. Actively promoting staff wellbeing leads to greater staff productivity, morale and retention, and reduced sickness absence.

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  • What is mental health?
  • The legal position
  • Supporting employees' mental health at work
  • CIPD viewpoint
  • Useful contacts
  • References 
  • Further reading

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