Mental Health still seems to be a stigmatised subject. Although more and more people are opening up about the subject and attempting to address their own mental health, it now almost seems futile to enter the conversation because of the struggle to enter public services and receive proper treatment.
For many who can’t afford the luxury of private health care, the burden of mental ill health continues to be lumbered on the individual. Everyday stresses paired with work commitments can be extremely overwhelming, especially in today’s climate where we face the unpredictable challenges of a worldwide pandemic.
What does the law say?
Unbeknownst to many, there are a number of legal presidents in place to protect workers’ physical and mental health. A massive 76% of people feel that their employer should be doing more to look after their mental health. We’re here to give you some insight on your rights as an employee and the methods that can be instilled into your work life to make things easier.
Most people who are experiencing ongoing mental health problems meet the definition of disability laid out in the Equality Act 2010 and the amended Disability Discrimination Act 1995. This means that people suffering with mental ill health are protected from discrimination and harrassement, and are entitled to have their work reasonably adjusted to meet their needs.
To be considered disabled under the equality legislation, a person must have a mental impairment which has a ‘substantial, adverse and long term impact on their ability to carry out every day tasks’. This can range from Social Anxiety Disorders, PTSD and Depression, to name a few. Some examples of reasonable adjustments include:
- Changing a work pattern to enable an employee to start later or finish earlier due to possible side effects of medication.
- Providing someone with a laptop or enabling remote access to work from home depending on the severity of symptoms.
- Excusing an employee from attending work functions or client events and instead organising alternatives that will achieve a similar work return.
What financial help is there for employers?
Should an employer struggle to provide a ‘work from home’ set up due to finances, the Access to Work fund is available, which is a government funded scheme that helps employers to fund equipment, software and other support options.
As well as the duty to consider reasonable adjustments, the two acts implement protection from harassment, bullying and unfair treatment, thus employers are obligated to address any such claims relating to mental health, just as they would for other protected characteristics such as gender, sexual orientation, race or faith.
What other methods are there to help you manage your mental wellbeing?
There are also a number of techniques that can be implemented at home which may have a beneficial impact on your worklife.
- Talking about your feelings – keeping in contact with family members, friends, making your situation known to your employer or seeking professional help are all important ways of relieving stress. Helping others to understand how to help you can aid in relieving stress when it starts to overcome you.
- Eat well – it is scientifically proven that a good diet is beneficial to the body and mind. Try to ensure that you make the most of your lunch break and consume well portioned, healthy foods to stop you from feeling sluggish.
- Sleep – try to get around 8 hours sleep. Switching off your phone, TV and other electronics 30 minutes before going to sleep can help to switch off your mind.
- Avoid alcohol – having a quick beverage in the pub can feel like a good way of rounding off a tough day. On the contrary, alcohol is a depressant and although it may relax you in that initial hour, it is likely to make you feel low and dehydrated later on which is detrimental to your mental health.
- Regular exercise – exercise is proven to release endorphins, the hormone which makes you happy. Removing yourself from your work environment and going for a walk will help to rejuvenate your mind and make you feel more prepared to tackle the workload that remains.
If you’re unsure about your rights within the workplace when it comes to your mental health, please feel free to get in touch with us for more clarity. Our friendly solicitors are based in Plymouth, Tavistock, Kingsbridge and Torpoint.