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What is a Mental Health Policy?

Health & SafetyMental Health

What is a Mental Health Policy?

A Mental Health Policy is aimed at promoting, specifically, the mental wellbeing of the entire workforce.

The policy is seen as commitment from top level management to ensure that the mental wellbeing  of the workforce is considered, along with the physical wellbeing.

Mental Health and stress related illnesses are associated with a lot of the top causes of disability and disease in society today. Promoting and protecting the mental wellbeing of the workforce is important for people’s physical health, social wellbeing and productivity.

What Should a Mental Health Policy Contain?

A Mental Health Policy should outline the company’s aims and objectives for being aware of the impact mental ill-health can have on individuals and the organisation as a whole. It is often advisable to include objectives (what will we do) and actions (how will we do it) in the same section so that the policy flows well.

It would indicate who the responsible persons are within the organisation including, but not limited to, who has overall responsibility of the Mental Health management system, who the Mental Health First Aiders or Mental Health appointed persons are, and who is responsible for ensuring the policy is up to date, relevant and accurate.

The scope of the policy would be included, indicating who the policy applies to (everyone), what is within scope e.g. mental well-being, stress management etc. and what is not within scope e.g. physical injury and it will also outline the interconnectivities between other policies, such as the top level health and safety policy.

Also included should be a section that explains what will be done in an instance of mental ill health including reporting and monitoring of trends.

How Should Companies Treat Mental Wellbeing?

It is vital that mental health and physical health and safety are treated equally important. There are no reasons why physical health should be deemed more important. As such, the same actions that are taken for physical health and safety should be taken for mental wellbeing.

Does your company have a health and safety committee? If so, are mental health concerns discussed during policy meetings and is there a nominated mental health representative at each meeting?

There are laws that require employers to carry out risk assessments to ensure the safety of employees, but did you know that these same regulations have a requirement to assess the risk of stress-related ill health?

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to assess the risk of stress-related ill health arising from work activities, as with any other hazard. The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 requires an employer to take measures to control that risk.

Can stress lead to mental illness?

It’s important to note that not all stress is bad. Stress can actually motivate people to perform under pressure. Stress in various situations can actually be a lifesaver. In response to danger, your body prepares itself to face threat or escape safely. In these situations, your pulse rate increases, you breathe faster, your muscles become tense, your brain uses more oxygen and you become more alert—all functions aimed at survival.

Extended, continual, stress over a longer period of time can cause not only mental ill health, but physical ill health. Different people may feel stress in different ways. For example, some people experience different digestive symptoms, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), while others may suffer from anger, irritability, headaches, trouble sleeping, and anger.

People under chronic (ongoing) stress are likely to be affected more often by viral infections like the flu.

Ongoing stress may be the most difficult type of stress to notice in yourself to begin with. Because the stress will be more constant than in other cases of acute or traumatic stress, the body gets no clear signal to return to normal functioning.

Over time, continued strain on your body from routine stress may contribute to serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other illnesses, as well as mental disorders like depression or anxiety.

How Can My Company Help Staff Manage Their Mental Wellbeing?

According to the government, 1 in 4 people will suffer from a mental health issue at least once in their lifetime. In organisations where the promotion of mental wellbeing isn’t as prominent as others, staff members may feel like they can’t talk to their senior colleagues about the issues they’re facing. This is a culture issue at the organisation level that needs to be addressed.

The first step is for management to commit to promoting the mental wellbeing within the organisation. Then staff can be sent on a training course  to become qualified through Mental Health in the Workplace training.

Even before the training course, the organisation can make key changes such as announcing the commitment to mental wellbeing throughout the organisation and briefing managers on the changes to help them have an open door policy when it comes to talking about any mental health problems that their subordinates might have.

The organisation may also consider offering a talking therapy service to their employees so that they can discuss any topics in confidence.

What Training Is Available?

Flagship Training UK Limited offer a range of First Aid & Mental Health in the Workplace courses from level 1 to level 3, which each have different levels of depth for those in different positions within organisations. You can view our courses here or contact us on or call 01733 396169.