Today the 10th October 2018 is recognised as World Mental Health Day and there will be lots of awareness campaigns highlighting the importance of recognising mental health problems in the workplace. All these initiatives are great, and long may they continue; but I’d like to provide you with a practical tool that can be used to evaluate possible causes of work-related stress and/or mental health problems in the workplace. Picture the scenario, an employee goes to their manager and indicates that their mental health problems are caused by work. What does a manager do? This is where our stress-self assessment checklist can help.
The HSE defines stress as ‘the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demand placed upon them’. Knowing what pressures employees are under and ensuring that adequate controls are in place will ensure that these pressures don’t lead to stress. On the other hand if these pressures are not controlled or understood and is prolonged it can lead to both physical and psychological damage, including anxiety and depression. The mental health foundation states that ‘stress is a response to a threat in a situation, whereas a mental health problem is a reaction to the stress’. If an employees has a pre-existing health conditions and are also having problems at work, this can bring on their symptoms of worsen their effects.
Employers have a responsibility to look after their employees irrespective of whether work is the cause of the health issue or making it worse. Work-related mental health issues should be treated the same as any other work-related issue if a risk exists. If a risk exists appropriate measures to remove or reduce the risk should be introduced as far as is reasonably practicable. Trying to distinguish between the symptoms of someone suffering from work-related stress and a mental health problem is very difficult as they can be very similar. Employees can also experience work-related stress without having a mental health problem and visa versa. The key distinction between them are their cause(s) and the way(s) they are treated. Remember, stress can lead to physical and mental health conditions but is not the only cause.
So, as an employer what can you do?
By using a checklist like this you will be able to systematically go through the areas that may influence an employee’s satisfaction with work and identify solutions to their current situation. As we’ve seen already, not all mental health problems have their origin at work however, being able to support your employees by using this checklist as an initial start to gathering key information that can be used to remove or reduce stressors is a good place to start. This checklist is based on the HSE’s Management Standards. The HSE management standards provides more detailed information so do check them out.
You can download a copy of the checklist by clicking on the image below. The checklist is available in WORD and PDF format. I hope that you find the checklist a useful tool.
We have two online training programs on our training portal – Mental Health Awareness and Stress Awareness that might be useful within your organisation. The content of both training courses have been certified by the CPD Certification Services as conforming to continuing professional development principles. The first module of all our training courses are available to view for free by registering for an account. You can register here. Once registered search for either training course from the menu.