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Working conditions and environment can have a significant impact on mental health, while someone's mental health can determine how well they perform in their job.

In 2016, researchers from CIPD found that almost a third of the over 2,000 employees surveyed said they have experienced a mental health problem at some point during their working life. Of those who have had poor mental health at work, 42 percent have experienced a problem in the past 12 months - to the extent it has affected their health and well-being.

Despite this increase, the number of respondents who say their organisation supports employees with mental health issues either ‘very’ or ‘fairly well’ remains less than half at 46 percent. Worryingly, just 44 percent said they currently feel confident disclosing unmanageable stress or mental health problems to their current employer or manager.

For this reasons, we at Search, along with the mental health charity – Mind and Law Firms - JMW Solicitors LLP and DMH Stallard, recently held a series of workshops throughout the country to educate employers and HR managers on how to legally, practically and compassionately manage cases of poor mental health which may arise in the workplace.

The seminars covered a range of topics including the triggers of poor mental health in the workplace, subsequent signs and symptoms, what the law says about how employers should treat cases of poor mental health within organisations and how companies can create mentally resilient workforces.

Associate Trainers from Mind outlined the most common manifestations of poor mental health, citing anxiety and depression as the most common at 80 percent. They then provided a comprehensive overview of the mental health continuum – a concept that measures the level of mental health from positivity to illness. They also explained the relationship between stress and mental health, and how workplace and home pressures can fuel stress resulting in poor mental health such as anxiety or depression.

Attendees were then invited to share their own personal triggers, and receive guidance on how to cope with them as individuals. The speakers offered a range of holistic support suggestions which include, but are not limited to befriending schemes, mentoring and setting achievable goals.

Solicitors from JMW LLP and DMH Stallard took the stage to legally define disability as the physical or mental impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse affect on normal day-to-day activities. They then highlighted the different forms of discrimination – such as victimisation and unfair dismissal. However, they also cautioned that a Tribunal is not obliged to find mental disability and that employers will have to have reasonably been expected to have known about the disability in order to be held liable for discrimination.

The law firms summarised real-life discrimination claims raised by employees who claimed to have been unfairly treated due to their level of mental health. The examples were then used to pin point areas in which employers failed to uphold equal treatment as required by the Equality Act, with key advice on what to bear in mind going forward.

The event was concluded with a Black Dog Depression animation – a video that creatively addresses how depression consumes an individual when internalised for too long, and how important it is for sufferers to talk about issues of mental health and seek help and support.

Search Consultancy would like to thank each Trainer and Solicitor who offered their valuable contributions to our workshop. Here they are their names in lights: 

Stay tuned for our follow up blogs based on the topics covered in the event.