As organisations take precautions to address Health & safety challenges during the outbreak of COVID -19, PSS would like to re-emphasise the importance of safeguarding mental health and some of the steps we can take to ensure that health/mental health is given the same importance as safety during this unprecedented time. This is in line with the longer-term PSS industry strategy of the 'Whole Person' approach and the implementation of the PSS Sector-wide Health and Safety plan to crack the industry's accident plateau
Firstly, by mental health we do not mean “mental ill-health”. We mean the mental health we all have, just as we all have a state of physical health and just like health, it moves along a spectrum from good to poor on a day to day basis. Some days we can be doing really well and feeling good, some days we find things harder and sometimes we may get ill and possibly have time off work to recover. It's important to remember that this is natural and its ok to feel this way.
The Stevenson and farmer report on thriving at work pointed out that there is a substantial annual cost to employers of between £33 billion and £42 billion. Over half of that cost comes from presenteeism – when individuals are less productive due to poor mental health in work and additional costs from sickness absence and staff turnover. The report also highlighted that one in four people in England has been diagnosed with a mental health condition in their lifetime at the time of publication.
Conversely, in Deloitte's report on 'Mental health and Employers - The case for investment', the return on investment of workplace mental health interventions is overwhelmingly positive with an ROI range between 0.4:1 to 9:1 with an average return of 4.2:1. These figures were conservative and there exist opportunities for employers to achieve better returns through interventions at organisational and proactive stages, enabling employees to thrive at work rather than intervening at very late stages.
The mental health charity Mates in Mind (with whom PSS has a MOU) has developed resources for organisations to use for reassuring, signposting and supporting teams during these uncertain times. The free resources include but is are not limited to:
- Covid-19 Resources: Including Covid-19 briefing tool, Supporting Remote working Checklist, Homeworking Mental Health Tips
- Time to Talk (Guide for managers): Including How to spot the signs, How to start the conversation, How to actively listen, How to encourage help seeking, Signposting additional support, How to deal support suicidal people.
- Confidential helplines and support services
Work Related Stress
Stress can impact on Mental Health and is strongly associated with Mental Ill Health. Stress is a major cause of sickness absence in the workplace and costs over £5 billion a year in Great Britain. It affects individuals, their families and colleagues by impacting on their health but it also impacts on employers with costs relating to sickness absence, replacement staff, lost production and increased accidents.
The Health and Safety Executive promotes the Management Standards approach to tackling work-related stress and has published a workbook to help organisations manage it through a clear step-by-step method which includes checklists to help you make sure you have completed a stage before you move to the next step. HSE’s stress webpages support the workbook with other guidance and tools.
The “Tackling work-related stress using the Management Standards approach” workbook can be found at: https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/wbk01.htm
Further guidance and support can be found at: https://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/index.htm
There are also a variety of resources available to members to help employers manage the risks from poor mental health including but not limited to the UK Government Devolved Administrations and NHS.
The National Health Service provides a resource on 'Five steps to Mental Health Wellbeing'. These are evidence-based steps you can take to improve your mental health and wellbeing. Trying these things could help you feel more positive and able to get the most out of life.
Research has shown that learning a new skill can help improve mental wellbeing and to this end, the department for education has recently launched a new free online learning platform called 'The Skills Toolkit'. The aim is to boost workplace skills while people are either furloughed or staying at home for other reasons.
This new platform gives people access to free, high-quality digital and numeracy courses to help build up their skills, improve their knowledge, build their confidence and support their mental health so they have skills they need to succeed after the coronavirus outbreak.
Please click on the link below to access the free skills courses. They are online and can be completed at your convience.