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Supporting your Staff with Mental Health Issues

Date 7 May, 2021 |
By: Claire Malley

mental health and safetyEmployers supporting staff with their mental health and safety issues at work are more likely to have a positive culture within their organisation. Research carried out by the Charity MIND found that “60% of employees would recommend their organisation as a good place to work if their employer took action to support mental wellbeing”. Now more than ever with the Covid-19 pandemic affecting people and their everyday lives in so many different ways, it’s even more essential to get talking about mental health in the workplace.
Employees can suffer from mental health associated with their work at any time throughout their working life. In February 2021, the HSE published statistics on work-related stress, anxiety and depression. In 2019/2020, 38.8 million estimated working days lost were due to work related ill health. Stress, anxiety and depression took the lions share of the total lost days. It is a legal requirement of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 that employers protect the health, safety and welfare of all employees whilst at work.

Covid-19 and the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Work-related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can affect anyone and can arise from one single event. It can occur after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. However, not everyone goes on to develop PTSD.

  • Examples include employees who are exposed to bullying or violence at work.
  • Within the Care Industry any individual who has become emotionally attached to a patient or a resident has the potential to develop PTSD through the shock of losing a patient.
  • Likewise, if your organisation involves employees driving as part of their work role they may witness a road traffic accident which can be traumatic for them.

Under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrence Regulations 2013, PTSD would not be reportable as it is not listed as one of the reportable occupational diseases. However, it is recommended that you document PTSD and other mental health issues for your own records. An employee experiencing PTSD may not develop the symptoms until long after the event.
Generally, symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Memory problems;
  • Social withdrawal;
  • Feelings of fear and anxiety;
  • Poor relationships with co-workers;
  • Panic attacks;
  • Trouble staying awake;
  • Performance deterioration.

Essential Mental Health and Safety Guidance for Employers

How can your organisation help protect employees from developing PTSD and other mental health issues, and help those who have suffered a traumatic event?
Providing employees with emotional support is a good approach to help them cope with a traumatic event. Educating all staff about PTSD through training and dicsussions has been found to be beneficial to help employees suffering from PTSD as well as other employees.
It is also good practice to introduce flexible working and reduce work load where possible. Overall it is important to recognise that PTSD is a serious medical condition that has serious consequences if not dealt with sensitively and carefully. It is therefore, appropriate to offer counselling and access to health care.
During Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, pause and take time to consider your staff members. Do you have employees suffering from mental health issues which are affecting their work and do you need advice and support to help manage your team? Get in touch with our expert Health and Safety Consultants today.
Article written by Angela Laycock – Wirehouse Health & Safety Advisor

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