Mental Health and Work

Mental Health disorders account for a growing proportion of the total of ill health in the UK.  This increasing trend has been in place for many decades.  It is a general trend across Western society and does not solely affect the UK.  There are many theories for why this is the case, for example: modern Western society inherently has more and greater stresses and pressures for individuals; the demise of the extended family with the support it gives; that greater understanding in society has led to people feeling more comfortable to admit that they have symptoms indicative of mental ill-health and seek support and treatment. It is likely that the rise in the prevalence of mental ill-health is down to a combination of these factors and others.

The overwhelming majority of people have some experience of knowing or supporting someone who has or is struggling with a mental health disorder.  It could be a member of the family, a friend or a colleague.  Additionally, some individuals will have the experience of suffering from or being treated for a mental health problem.  All such experience can provide colleagues with very worthwhile skills and knowledge to help someone at work who has a mental health disorder.

If an individual has a mental health problem or if they have struggled with symptoms in the past, it can make them more susceptible to developing issues from situations at work.  It is important that managers keep an eye for individuals in their teams showing signs of being under pressure.  It isn’t only the manager who can help; colleagues may often perceive a change in a person’s behaviour or simply their way of being and can initiate a supportive, non-threatening conversation or, if they prefer, they can mention it to the manager and ask for them to make discrete enquiries instead.

Further Information

There are many different places that one can learn more about mental health problems.  Below are a few links and resources which give reliable, useful information about the signs and symptoms of mental ill-health, its growing incidence in the UK and detail about work and mental health.

Understanding Mental Health Problems (MIND booklet)
Mental Health Facts and Statistics (MIND website)
Mental Health: 10 charts on the scale of the problem (BBC article)
Work Related Stress, Depression or Anxiety Statistics in Great Britain 2017 (HSE)

Support at the University

  • New employees are sent information about support available for staff with long term health issues and where and how to access this.  This includes support for anyone with long term mental health issues.  This is particularly important for those people who believe they need or would benefit from adjustments to carry out their role.  The support available can be accessed by communicating with OH, HR or the individual’s recruiting manager
  • The University organises various levels of training for management on mental health issues so individuals struggling with this health problem can be confident in discussing their situation with their manager
  • Every staff member has a formal RPD with their manager at least once a year.  A question about individual wellbeing is included in this framework.  This can be a natural and appropriate time for someone to discuss any health issues they are struggling with, including mental health problems
  • All staff can self-refer to OH to discuss their mental health problems.  The OH professional will be able to assist with advice and guidance based on their medical or nursing qualifications and their experience.  It is possible that external counselling could be facilitated for clients but this will be based on certain criteria for referral.  The OH professional is particularly well placed to advise on symptoms and work adjustments or rehabilitation after absence due to mental ill health
  • The University has a Counselling Service that all staff can self-refer to confidentially.  There is no need to involve management, HR or OH.  The Counselling Service is based in Student Support and Wellbeing and staff can experience a period of waiting before treatment starts depending on the volume of student throughput.  This is a limited service and an individual is usually offered between 6-8 sessions in each academic year
  • Further information is also available on the University’s Staff Health and Wellbeing website and there are resources available on the Staff Wellbeing Reading List