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Mental health ‘not all talk’, says report

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The Institute of Directors report advises more talk and more action from companies in tackling mental health, following its survey among 30,000 member firms.


The recommendation comes from its aptly named report,https://www.iod.com/Portals/0/PDFs/Campaigns%20and%20Reports/Mental%20Health/a%20little%20more%20conversation.pdf published on 2 March.

“Four in five of our employing members do not offer mental health training for management. In those firms with board structures, mental health must be put higher up the agenda,” said Andy Silvester, deputy director of policy at the IoD.

The report looks at how far the message on mental health – encouraging ‘openness’ on mental health conditions at work for example – has translated into action on the ground among businesses.

It found that while 98 per cent of respondents to the survey agreed mental health is ‘important or very important’ to a business, most – 80 per cent – said they did not have a mental health policy in their workplace.

Mental health policies typically include details on who to talk to, and state a person will not be disadvantaged at work for their problem.

Lack of such policies is particularly worrying says the report, because fear of what will happen is a known factor in preventing people coming forward.

In other results, it found most (72%) of businesses said they would refer staff to their GP as the first port of call.

“While for stretched employers it may be the easiest option, simply referring staff to their GP is not a sufficient response to mental health challenges in the workplace,” says the report.

GPs are not always ‘effectively trained’ in understanding mental health and ‘prevention is better than cure’ when it comes to mental health, it says.

Employers should be alert instead to early warning signs of a potential mental health issue such as absenteeism, increased smoking or alcohol consumption, which ‘may not always signal mental ill health, but often do’.

“Employers have a duty of care in physical health, and they should have one in mental health, too,” urged Silvester.

The report also recommended that large firms should appoint a person on their board specifically responsible for mental health.

To read the report click here

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