What Makes a Good Mental Health Policy?
Now while there’s no competition to see which company offers the best mental health policy, there are certain elements which would be useful to include. Our experts this week share what they think should be included in a mental health policy that benefits employers as well as employees.
Have a read as there may be things that you may want to include in your own policies if you haven’t got it already.
There are many companies offering incredible mental health benefits to their employees. Since those companies have unique employees with unique needs, the benefits they offer may differ. At the very least, employers leading the way in mental health benefits should offer two core benefits: (i) Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and (ii) mental health coverage. The companies that are differentiating themselves in regard to EAPs are the ones that want employees to use the program. Many employers “check the box” by providing an EAP vendor that does not focus on driving engagement.
Nick Patel, CEO of Wellable.
There is no one particular company which can offer ‘the best’ mental health policy because schemes and policies must be tailored to the company. For example, depending on the size of the company, or perhaps the stress implications of the job, it is important to adapt policy to what will be of most value to your employees. However, it is worth looking out for companies which are signed up to the Mindful Employer Charter as this shows they are taking active steps to improve their employees’ wellbeing.
Renae Shaw, Head of HR at Search Laboratory.
The American Psychological Association (APA) has recognized psychologically healthy workplaces for many years. Nearly two dozen companies were recognized in 2018.
Dr. Lee Keyes, is a Psychologist and Emeritus Director at the University of Alabama.
A clear mental health policy should set out how the organisation will promote wellbeing for all staff, tackle the causes of work-related mental health problems and support staff experiencing them. Additionally, these are some guiding principles for effective policy development:
- Consult with staff in the development and implementation of your mental health policy
- Be clear on roles and responsibilities of those involved in delivering the policy including indicative timescales for addressing issues.
We support many organisations to develop their organisational policies and practice through our Workplace Wellbeing Index in order to support employee mental health.
Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind.
Companies that recognise ‘one off’ interventions during mental health awareness week do not work. Offering a range of complementary interventions and support across the workforce consistently drives home the message a dialogue about mental health is both expected and welcomed by the employer.
In addition, all initiatives should have the inherent message all of us have mental health needs, and as these vary over time, we will require different types of support. The range of initiatives offered should echo this message
Brendan Street, Professional Head of Emotional Wellbeing at Nuffield Health.
It’s important for employees to feel safe and to know that if they reach out for help, they will get it. The employer should be able to offer free, confidential discussions with a trained mental health worker who can signpost the employee to resources and services that can help them. Mental ill health should be treated just like any other illness – the brain is an organ just like any other and can malfunction just like any other. Give them the space they need to heal, send them a get well card and remind them of their value to the business.
Shona Davies, Founder of Shona Davies Consulting.
We’re a big fan with how transparent companies such as Monzo are about mental health by sharing what they do to support employees publicly and in turn, helping remove the stigma around mental health not only to their employees but to their followers. It provides other companies with a starting point on how to go about implementing mental health policies.
Chieu Cao, Co-Founder of Perkbox.
Well the first step is simply having a visible mental health policy as many companies still don’t have one in place. A mental health policy for the workplace defines the vision for improving the mental health of the workforce and establishes a model for action.
Lucy Faulks, Co-founder of Elevate.
A good mental health policy should be jargon free and use inclusive language. It should identify that we all have mental health and just like our physical health it can be impacted on. For some this can be short term but for others it can last longer.
A policy alone is not sufficient; it should be supported by good practice guidance which helps managers and staff to manage mental health and well-being in a way that’s positive and supportive. Well-being initiatives and reasonable adjustments should be outlined so staff are aware of what’s available.
Finally, awareness training should be mandatory for all staff, it gets people talking about mental health, it raises awareness and helps to create a safer environment for colleagues to share and support each other.
Paula Whelan, Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Right Track Learning.
I don’t know if I can speak directly to what other companies are doing, but with what we’re doing at CHG, we have seen a lot of great stories where the mental health services we provide have changed lives. Our employees are able to continually thrive because of the help they have received, and to me, if other companies are able to have similar initiatives then they are on the right track.
Nicole Thurman, Vice President, Talent Management at CHG Healthcare.