IOSH supports Mental Health Awareness Week

08 May 2017

Today marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Week (8-14 May 2017) – an initiative supported by IOSH.

Happy workers

This year’s awareness campaign takes a new angle: rather than asking why so many people are living with mental health problems, the question asked is why too few of us are thriving with good mental health.

Judith McNulty-Green, IOSH’s Technical Information Manager, brings us up-to-date with the latest information on the subject, including links to relevant information.

“As health and safety practitioners, we know that psychosocial risks can be assessed and managed in the same systematic way as ‘traditional’ workplace risks.

“Our engagement in the proactive assessment and support in the management of stress is key if we are to see a reduction in the estimated 9.9 million UK working days in 2014/15 due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety.

“The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work report provides comparisons across European countries, as well as differences in stress according to age, gender, sector and occupation, and the associated costs. And then, of course, there is the impact of poor mental health on productivity for those who remain at work.

“In the UK, the HSE first published its management standards for work-related stress over a decade ago and these standards have been used internationally as a benchmark for work related stress management.

“The standards set out a structure for assessing the risks of stress, around six themes: demands – workload, work patterns and the work environment; control – how much say the person has in the way they do their work; support – the encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by the organisation, line management and colleagues; relationships – promoting positive working to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour; role – whether people understand their role in the organisation and whether the organisation makes sure that they don’t have conflicting roles; change – how organisational change (large or small) is managed and communicated in the organisation.

“There are a number of tools available to assist – I have personally found the Line Manager Competency Indicator Tool useful in raising the understanding of managers of the subject and their role within managing the risks. We can all gain pointers (and inspiration) from case studies.

“Already available on the website is a great deal of information on work-related stress - visit our OH Toolkit which will give you tips on training for employers and employees, rehabilitation, referrals and much more.

“HSE is now revisiting the topic area. IOSH representatives attended the UK Stress Summit in March to influence the direction of travel and will be working with HSE as a stress research partner, kick starting with a meeting later this month. We will also be increasing the resources available on our website around stress and other psychosocial issues – so watch this space.”