Stress, mental health and wellbeing

Last reviewed on 27/06/2014 09:59

As part of their legal duties all employers have a responsibility, under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of their employees.

This includes stress which if not addressed can lead to a variety of physical and mental health problems, therefore it makes good sense to address it at the earliest stage.

Mental health is about the way we think and feel and our ability to cope and is influenced by a range of factors, including our work and home life. We can all feel stressed at times and it affects us in different ways at different times.

Employers have a crucial role in supporting the health and wellbeing of employees, whether the problems are related to work or not. From communication to clarity of job role, as an employer you can influence the success of a team.

We depend on good mental health to perform and work effectively, which makes the management of mental health good business sense. The cost of sickness absence for Scotland's employers due to mental health is £360 million, with one worker in six experiencing depression, anxiety or some problem relating to stress at any one time.

Simple steps you can take

1. Talk about it - if it's a particularly busy or pressurised time, acknowledge it.
2. Provide a noticeboard or space where information about mental health is displayed. Make sure staff know about it and refresh it from time to time. Use events like World Mental Health Day or Stress Awareness Day to raise staff awareness.
3. Provide breakout areas for staff and ensure staff take their lunch breaks and monitor working hours.
4. Build some fun activities into work, such as team lunches, walks, dress down days, raising funds for charity, etc.
5. Provide training on how to recognise and support mental health problems.

Further information and support

Further guidance and information around mental health training and support on our website

The website also contains Work Positive, a stress risk management resource, developed to support employers identify and reduce the potential causes of stress in the workplace.

The Health and Safety Executive has also produced guidance on work related stress and mental health (external link).

'see me' Scotland (external link) is Scotland's programme for ending mental health stigma and discrimination.

Samaritans (external link) provide free confidential email and telephone support direct to individuals. 

You can also call our Adviceline for free confidential advice, to request a workplace visit, or to register for our Award programme which recognises and accredits good practice.