Mental health support in the workplace: are we doing enough? 

a pair of hands open facing upwards with a green mental health awareness ribbon in the palm

Mental health in the workplace has always been a hot topic, never more so than during Mental Health Awareness week. Workers increasingly face new challenges; tough economic conditions, job safety, and the ongoing ups and downs of managing personal relationships and family. Mental Health Awareness week gives organisations a great opportunity to look at and assess their policies and ask, ‘what else could we be doing?’

Common approaches typically involve a combination of legal frameworks, preventive measures, and support services. Let’s look at a few of them.  

First up is legislation. In the UK, The Thriving at Work standards promote mental health awareness and support in the workplace. The German Occupational Health and Safety Act mandates employers assess and mitigate psychosocial risks, including stress and harassment, in the workplace. French labour laws include provisions for employee well-being. In Belgium, organisations must comply with the Workplace Health and Safety Regulations, which encompass psychosocial risks and mental health concerns. 

Preventive care can come in the form of work-life balance and workplace health policies. These generally offer flexible working arrangements, support for parental leave, stress management training, resilience building and promotion of employee well-being. 

And finally, we have Employee assistance programmes (EAPs) or occupational health services. These generally cover confidential counselling, resources for employees dealing with personal or work-related issues, mental health first aid training and psychological support.  

But is this enough? 

While these initiatives represent positive steps forward, there is still much to be done to remove the stigma that stops people accessing these services in the first place.  

Many employees still feel reluctant to disclose mental health issues due to fear of judgment or repercussions. Creating a supportive workplace culture where employees feel valued, respected, and empowered to prioritise their mental health is key. This requires ongoing efforts to encourage open communication, flexible working arrangements, and supportive leadership. 

And given the prevalence and impact of mental health issues in the workplace, there’s a compelling argument for doing more to support employees. 

Mental health problems cost European economies billions of euros each year in lost productivity, absenteeism, and healthcare expenses. Investing in mental health support can yield significant economic returns for business. 

But beyond the economic considerations, we have a moral imperative to prioritise employees’ mental well-being. Every worker deserves to feel safe, supported, and able to thrive in their workplace. Ultimately, advancing mental health in the workplace isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s essential for building a healthier, more resilient workforce and society. 

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