Mental health Q&A for employers with Andrea Crombleholme - Head of HR at Business West

Kye Parkin
Communications Executive | Business West
21st January 2019

1. Describe your role.

As Head of HR for Business West, my role is to proactively manage the day to day operational issues of the company whilst assisting with the delivery of its strategic purpose and goals.

2. How prevalent are mental health issues in the workplace?

Broadly speaking, mental health problems in the workplace are all too common nowadays and is the leading cause of absenteeism. According to the Mental Health Foundation, mental health problems are costing UK employers approximately £2.4 billion per year.

3. What sort of impact can mental health issues have on the workplace?

The impact of mental health problems in the workplace has serious consequences not only for the individual but also for the productivity of a company. Such areas as employee performance, sickness absence, accidents, increased costs and staff turnover are all affected by employee’s mental health. These not only affect the individual but their surrounding team and colleagues.

4. What measures does Business West have in place to help employees suffering from mental health issues?

Here at Business West we have a number of initiatives to help wellbeing and mental health. We run a number of wellbeing workshops, have monthly wellbeing topics covering a broad spectrum of information and signposting and are looking to introduce Mental Health First Aiders.  

We recognise the seriousness of mental health and our aim is to have a number of First Aiders across the organisation who are able to spot the signs and symptoms of mental ill health and assist the employee. 

We encourage staff to take regular breaks, if they wish, to walk around the grounds at lunch time and to have a healthy work life balance. We allow working from home and also encourage an open-door approach to not only the HR department, but to our executive and managers.

5. What advice would you give to employers on how to deal with employees suffering from mental health issues?

Employers really need to understand mental health and the implications for their business. They need to educate their managers and staff on how to deal with these issues. Appointing mental health champions and training managers in how to spot mental ill health and support someone experiencing mental ill health can be invaluable. Providing them with the confidence to approach matters that concern them and helping them to support their team in the best way possible. 

There are many helpful places online so employers should be able to signpost employees effectively. Places such as ACAS and MIND have excellent online help and advice.

6. What advice can you give to employees who may be suffering with mental health issues at work?

My advice would be to talk to your HR team, be honest and hopefully together can work through scenarios to help!

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