How can HR professionals support mental health at work?

Thu 16 Sep 2021

Two people sat talking at a desk

While CIPD research shows that many organisations have stepped up their efforts to support mental health in the workplace over the last few years, mental health is still the top cause of long-term absence from work. 

In 2020, mental health-related absences cost the UK economy £14 billion and stagnated the productivity of 76% of workers.* 

Management style has been reported as the second-largest cause of work-related stress as, even though organisations seem more invested in employee wellbeing, they are not training people managers (e.g. HR managers, Talent Managers and HR Advisors) in the basics of mental health awareness and support. 

Those in roles responsible for looking after employees and improving company culture need to be aware of what they can do to support mental health in the workplace.

Mental Health Training

One of the best ways to ensure that people managers are equipped to support employees’ mental health is by making sure they have adequate training. Our CIPD Level 5 qualification includes an optional module on workplace wellbeing that examines how to manage employee welfare and how to implement successful wellbeing programmes. 

We also offer several short CPD courses that can help HR professionals develop their knowledge and skills further in different areas of mental health.

Mental Health Awareness
Understanding Anxiety
Understanding Stress
Understanding Depression

Spot signs of mental health

People managers, like HR professionals, should always be on the lookout for common signs of mental health struggles in employees. This can help you identify when to intervene or make adjustments in the workplace. Some indicators to be aware of include:

  • Decreased productivity
  • Lack of energy
  • Disinterest in work
  • Irritability
  • Frequent complaints of physical ailments e.g. headaches and stomach aches
  • Withdrawal from social situations
  • A decline in punctuality, attendance and/or performance.

Be available to talk

You don’t need official training to have a conversation with someone about mental health (although it helps). Talking openly about mental health can help to reduce stigma and mean employees are more likely to come forward when they’re struggling. You can then signpost individuals to appropriate professional resources for advice and guidance while also supporting them with necessary  workplace adjustments that can make managing their mental health easier. 

Champion employer-funded support

Within HR, you can be the champion of mental health initiatives driven and funded by the company such as Employee Assistance Programmes, wellbeing schemes and employee mental health training. 

Mental health awareness has never been more important, both for the wellbeing of employees and the success of the business. Properly addressing wellbeing at work can help increase productivity, improve company culture and save costs. HR professionals have a responsibility to ensure they, and those around them, are properly equipped to support employees’ mental health at work. 

Need to top up mental health awareness? Take one of our CPD short courses in mental health or contact our qualifications advisors for more information. 


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