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How to create a mental health at work policy in 5 steps

Thinking about creating a mental health policy or strategy at work and don’t know where to begin? You’re probably not alone. In this article, we’ll discuss how to create your own mental health at work policy in 5 simple steps.


Why is a mental health at work policy needed?

The creation and application of a workplace mental health policy will benefit the health of employees, boost productivity for the company and enhance the wellbeing of the wider community. It could be created as part of a wider health and safety strategy or live as a stand-alone policy. Either way, it shouldn’t be created to tick a box. Whatever is detailed within the policy needs to be reflected in daily workplace practices. In short, it needs outline a company’s day to day management of mental health in the workplace.

A mental health at work policy should detail your company’s vision for managing and improving the mental health of its workforce. A well thought out policy will identify and facilitate the agreements needed among the different stakeholders in the workplace, co-ordinate the best approach and deliver meaningful impact.


Creating a mental health policy in 5 steps

Step 1 – Senior management and key stakeholder buy in

If you’re thinking of creating a new mental health at work policy, you’ll first need to demonstrate why it is needed. You’ll need to adjust your approach depending on who you are trying to influence. Financial Directors or other productivity driven stakeholders will be more swayed by a robust business case that demonstrates cost savings and bottom line improvements. Human resource and learning development personnel could be more interested in the people or morale case i.e. it is just the right thing to do for our employees. In order to ensure you secure initial buy in from all stakeholders it may be useful to present all the arguments you can justify. Don’t skip this stage. The endorsement and future financial backing you’ll receive from this part of the process is critical to the long-term sustainability of the policy.

Step 2 – Co-ordinate your approach

Depending on the size of your organisation you’ll want to put together a small working group or more substantial steering committee to oversee the next steps. The expertise and experience of this handpicked group will help you gather data, facilitate consultation with the various stakeholders, and coordinate the development of your policy.  It’s important at this stage to secure commitment from people wishing to join and lay out expectations including how much time they will need to devote to being part of the group.

Step 3 – Assess need

A successful workplace mental health policy needs to be fully aware of the issues it is trying to address and/or manage e.g. what factors are contributing to a spike in absence due to work related stress, why are some departments seeing more turnover than others? Collect whatever data you have. This data could include absence statistics, staff turnover, employee engagement scores, staff satisfaction surveys, 360-degree line manager feedback, occupational health referrals, anonymous employee assistance programme usage data.

You may also wish to collect new data in the form of surveys, risk assessments, employee focus groups or online support tools. This extra level of information may provide some useful cross references to your existing data or immediately reveal some company hot spots that need investigating further. Healthy Performance has an innovative, engaging mental health support tool called Pascal that helps companies to fulfil their legal obligations in managing mental health in the workplace. For more information and to request a free demo please click here

Step 4 – Develop the policy

Steps 1-3, if done correctly, will have built a solid foundation from which to grow your policy. It is worth noting this entire process should involve employee consultation throughout. Everyone needs to feel part of the process and encouraged to suggest what the vision and aims of the policy are. Vision statements are used to present the overriding message of what the policy is and how it intends to deliver its outcomes. e.g. to promote a culture of openness where mental and physical health are treated with equal importance and to allow everyone the same opportunities to participate in workplace activities.

The development of your policy needs to outline its objectives, based on the finding of step 3 and aim to improve mental health in the workplace. These objectives need to be able to provide a benchmark from which future reviews and evaluations can be measured against. You can then start to deliver targeted interventions to achieve your policy objectives.

Step 5 – Review the policy

It is generally accepted as best practice to continually review the implementation of any new policy in the workplace to assess its effectiveness. Doing so helps to reinforce a strong business case for future investment and to reassure key stakeholders the policy is delivering on what it set out to achieve. Reviewing your policy should involve both quantitative and qualitative evidence.  Cross reference absence data, repeat any staff surveys, hold focus groups or 1-1 interviews to gather as much evidence as possible.

To ensure the best chance of success you need to follow these 5 key steps. Generate as much support as you can from influential allies at work and focus collaborating diversely and communicating openly and transparently.


Want to provide better mental health support to your entire workforce?

Pascal® is an innovative online mental health support platform that allows you and your employees to measure home and work pressure, ensures you comply with HSE regulations and employment law, and importantly, provide your employees with more support surrounding mental health.

Taking less than 10 minutes to complete, employees will receive a confidential report with recommendations and links to existing support pathways. Your company report then identifies hotspots and trends to focus your mental health strategy around.  Learn more about Pascal here.

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