Mental Health Awareness Week – Acas Guidance for Employers

This year, Mental Health Awareness Week (14-20 May), which is hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, is focusing on stress. Whilst not a mental health problem in itself, stress can lead to depression, anxiety and other mental health problems. A recent survey commissioned by the Foundation and undertaken by YouGov found that 74 per cent of people have at some point felt overwhelmed and unable to cope as a result of stress.

As adults, we spend a large proportion of our time at work, and what happens during those hours is a major factor in determining our overall wellbeing. To raise awareness of the issues involved and to help employers deal with them, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) has guidance on managing staff experiencing mental ill health. This contains sections on:

  • the role of a manager;
  • how to spot the signs of mental ill health;
  • encouraging staff to develop their own Wellness Action Plans;
  • talking to a team member who may be experiencing mental ill health;
  • managing a team member who may feel unable to talk;
  • supporting a team member during periods of mental ill health;
  • supporting the rest of your team;
  • approaching absence related to mental ill health;
  • assisting a team member with their return to work; and
  • approaching potential disciplinary or capability matters.

Employers are reminded that where an employee is experiencing mental ill health that is having a substantial and adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, the effect is long-term and the condition is likely to recur, they are deemed to be disabled for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010. Employers therefore have a specific duty to make reasonable adjustments to the employee’s work to minimise any disadvantages they are experiencing.