Part 6: Thriving at Work

Wellbeing at Work is a vast topic. There is a wealth of information and for any organisation just getting to grips with mental health support in the workplace, it can be difficult to know where to start. We are going to look at this important topic in six parts across this year.

In October 2017, Thriving at Work by Stevenson and Farmer was published following a request from the then Prime Minister, Theresa May, in January of that year for an independent review to be undertaken into how employers can better support the mental health of all people currently in employment including those with mental health problems or poor well-being to remain in and thrive through work.

The review sets out six mental health core standards for employers along with four enhanced standards. The vision includes that in ten years’ time, employers will have ‘good work’, which contributes positively to their mental health, our society and our economy. It hopes that all organisations, whatever their size, will be equipped with the awareness and tools to address and prevent mental ill health caused or worsened by work.

The charity Mind has produced a supporting document: ‘How to implement the Thriving at Work mental health standards in your workplace’, and this is a really useful document for those organisations just now beginning to take action and make a long term commitment to a better way of working.

Over the course of the year, these articles have looked at mental health within the workplace and ways organisations can take action. This article is intended to give a brief outline of the standards, but we would highly recommend downloading this guide from Mind for clear steps with realistic timeframes on how to make those changes within your organisation and without excessive cost.

The Standards

Core Standard One: Produce, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan that encourages and promotes good mental health of all staff and an open organisational culture.

Core Standard Two: Develop mental health awareness among employees by making information, tools and support accessible.

Core Standard Three: Encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling, during the recruitment process and at regular intervals throughout employment, with appropriate workplace adjustments offered to employees who require them.

Core Standard Four: Provide your employees with good working conditions and ensure they have a healthy work/ life balance and opportunities for development.

Core Standard Five: Promote effective people management to ensure all employees have a regular conversation about their health and wellbeing with their line manager, supervisor or organisational leader and train and support the line managers in effective practices.

Core Standard Six: Routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing by understanding available data, talking to employees, and understanding risk factors.

  • Enhanced Standard One: Increase transparency and accountability through internal and external reporting to include leadership commitment and outline the organisation’s progress on mental health.
  • Enhanced Standard Two: Demonstrate accountability by nominating a health and wellbeing lead at Board or Senior Leadership level, with clear reporting duties and responsibilities.
  • Enhance Standard Three: Improve the disclosure process to encourage openness during recruitment, ensuring employees are aware of why information is required and make sure the right support is in place to facilitate a good employer response following disclosure.
  • Enhanced Standard Four: Ensure provision of tailored in-house mental health support and signposting to clinical help, including digital support, employer-purchased Occupational Health or Employee Assistance Programmes, or NHS services, amongst other sources of support.

Mind has a wealth of tools and resources to help your business. Please follow this link to access them.

A Note from the Author Gemma Esprey – CallSafe

Over the past 18 months, throughout 2020/21, we have all experienced an unprecedented working routine. Many of us have worked from home for the first time. We have had to juggle working at home with children and pets. Perhaps you have had to work from your kitchen table or share your workspace with other family members. Maybe you were furloughed for a time.

Each and every one of us have had to deal with something different, as well as every employer has had a brand-new set of circumstances to work with, and this is constantly evolving due to changing government advice. This has had a huge impact on our mental health and will have knock-on and lasting effects in the years to come.

Although we try to separate our work life from our personal life, we are still human. Things that happen in our personal lives can affect how we think and feel at work, and many people have had a lot to deal with this year as the lines between work and home have become ever more blurred.

We have endured back-to-back video calls, got to grips with new technology and missed our co-workers. We have got to know our homes and gardens a lot better. We have answered emails whilst simultaneously trying to help our children answer a maths question. We have been on Zoom meetings with our dog squeaking their toys in the background, and not forgetting the blind panic when the internet drops out in the middle of a call for 100 people!

Some of these lifestyle changes will have been enjoyable. Perhaps you have relished a slower pace of life, for example. Working from home means no commuting or being outside on dark December mornings. Some people, however, have had to spend a lot of time on their own. Plans have been cancelled. We have been separated from loved ones; cut off from lots of things we normally enjoy doing; and we haven’t had our support networks.

This is why it is so important to take mental health seriously. Pay attention to each other. If someone isn’t their usual self, ask them how they are. Reach out. Help in its simplest form is just showing you care. Please remember to look after yourself too.

Wishing you all a happy 2022.

Compiled from an article authored by Gemma Esprey, the Callsafe Services Mental Health First Aider, that first appeared in the June 2020 edition of Callsafe Today.