Labour Research June 2012

Law Matters

Acas gets positive over mental health at work

Guidance on supporting workers with mental health issues has been published by the employment relations service Acas.

Promoting positive mental health at work is published in conjunction with Workways — an NHS agency specialising in helping individuals suffering from mental ill-health to return to or to stay in work.

Under the Equality Act 2010, mental illness can amount to a disability, requiring an employer to make reasonable adjustments, if it has a long-term adverse impact on the sufferer’s health. The guide provides suggestions on how work should best be structured to help colleagues suffering from mental ill-health — such as lightening their workload and ensuring they have a variety of tasks.

The guide is also designed to help colleagues with early identification of the signs of someone’s mental ill-health such as poor attendance and motivation.

Stress is now the single biggest cause of absence (among both manual and non-manual workers) and it is estimated that one in three workers suffer from anxiety or panic attacks as a result of the pressure of work, according to a survey by charities Working Families and One Plus One.

More generally, the guide should raise awareness of mental health issues, promote a workplace culture in which people feel comfortable discussing mental ill-health, and help colleagues assist with individuals staying in and returning to work.

The guidance is available at: