How Startup Owners And Teams Can Support Employee Mental Health

In the workplace, mental health involves taking care of the wellbeing and overall state of workers. This is just as important as physical health as they affect aspects such as productivity levels in the workplace.

Every HR department should implement systems and policies where employees’ health are considered as a way to provide support, with mental health being a priority.

Companies That offer human resources software solutions in the UK include:

  1. Rippling
  2. Deel
  3. BrightHR
  4. Factorial


What Does The UK Law Say For Mental Health In The Workplace?


As far as legislation goes for employers to create safe working spaces and treat mental and physical health equally, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 state that employers are to conduct risk assessments, appoint a competent person for health and safety, and make necessary adjustments for employees with disabilities, including those affected by mental health issues.

The Equality Act 2010 also states that those with long-term, substantial mental health issues may be considered disabled and are protected against discrimination, and it is the employer’s duty to adapt work environments to support mental health and wellbeing.


How Do Employers Maintain Mental Health In The Workplace?


Promoting Mental Wellbeing

Employers should value mental health as a core asset, designating leaders to implement mental health programmes and committing to a mentally healthy working culture. Strategies include offering mental health promotion tools and conducting regular staff surveys to inform policies and support.


Support and Training

Supporting the development of effective line management relationships is crucial. This includes providing training for managers to support staff with mental health problems and ensuring non-discrimination policies are in place.


Resources and Discrimination

Employers should address discrimination, value the diversity brought by lived experience of mental health problems, and ensure access to mental health professionals and resources like stress reduction programmes and mental health apps.

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What Frameworks Can Employers Use To Address Mental Health In The Workplace?


The Mental Health at Work Commitment, inspired by the Thriving at Work review, outlines six key standards to enhance workplace mental health:

  1. Develop a systematic programme for mental health.
  2. Ensure work design promotes positive mental health.
  3. Promote open culture around mental health.
  4. Build organisational capability for mental health support.
  5. Provide mental health tools and support.
  6. Increase transparency through reporting.


ISO 45003 offers global guidance for managing psychological health at work:

  1. Understanding the organisation’s context.
  2. Assessing psychological risks.
  3. Determining necessary resources.
  4. Developing actions for identified hazards.
  5. Monitoring and analysing changes.
  6. Continuously improving by learning and adjusting.


Both aim for a proactive approach to enhancing workplace mental health, focusing on preventive measures and promoting a supportive culture.


How Can HR Maintain Mental Health In The Workplace?


Systematic Approach:

HR should integrate mental health into all workplace strategies. This involves understanding that positive work environments promote good health and that company policies greatly affect staff well-being.


Building Trust:

Effective relationships between HR and occupational health (OH) are vital. Clear boundaries and mutual trust can help manage mental health effectively.


Competence and Resources:

HR needs to recognise their limits in handling mental health issues and should seek to expand their knowledge and resources, either internally or through external support.


Influence and Advocacy:

HR should use their position to influence mental health strategies and support initiatives at all levels within the company.


Recruitment and Support:

During recruitment, HR must ensure the work environment is welcoming and supportive for all, particularly for those with mental health conditions. This includes making adjustments and encouraging open discussions about mental health.


Tackling Stigma:

HR has a substantial role in fighting the stigma around mental health by encouraging an open culture, supporting anti-stigma campaigns, and ensuring that mental health is treated with the same importance as physical health.

How Teams And Colleagues Can Create A Supportive Culture For Mental Health


Creating a culture that openly discusses mental health in the workplace involves several key strategies:


Open Communication

Establishing open communication with regular one-to-one meetings and check-ins can build trust, as it provides a safe space for employees to discuss any mental health issues sooner than later.


Managerial Approach

Managers should be approachable and well-informed about mental health, as this makes it easier to normalise conversations and dialogue around mental health issues.


Supportive Environment

An environment must convey the narrative that mental health matters. Equating mental health with physical health in importance and ensuring a clear mental health strategy can help.


Action Plans

Developing individual action plans for mental health support can be beneficial. These plans should identify triggers, symptoms, and needed support.


Training and Awareness

Providing training for managers and staff on mental health issues can foster a supportive culture. Encouraging openness and reducing stigma are key goals.


Legal and Policy Framework

Ensuring that mental health policies are in place and communicated to all employees helps in creating an environment where mental health is taken seriously.


How Can Employees Speak Up About Their Mental Health?


Starting Conversations

Mental Health Awareness: Engage in activities that promote understanding, like mental health awareness weeks or training sessions.

Speak Up: Challenge negative comments and encourage respectful language.

Educate and Share: Increase knowledge among colleagues by sharing resources on stress management and mental health.


Encouraging Open Dialogue


Choosing the Right Person: Decide who you’re comfortable talking to.

Sharing the Impact: Focus on how mental health affects your work.

Seeking Support: Discuss what support you need, like flexible deadlines or remote work options.


Creating a Supportive Culture


Personal Experiences: Share your own mental health experiences to normalise the conversation.

Balance and Wellness: Promote a healthy work-life balance and encourage taking breaks.

Resources and Activities: Introduce wellness activities and discuss mental health openly in team settings.