Workplace Rights: mental ill health

Know the legal issues surrounding mental health

Last Updated: 26 Mar 2015

The issue of mental ill health in the workplace is being swept under the carpet, according to research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). Just four in 10 employees said they would feel confident disclosing a problem of this kind to their employer.

Surprisingly few organisations have a formal policy in this area, given that millions of working days are lost each year due to stress, depression and anxiety. There's also a powerful legal incentive. Disability discrimination law applies to mental disorders in the same way as to physical impairments, and a broad range of illnesses are potentially covered, including dementia, stress-related conditions and bipolar disorder. But there are signs that attitudes are changing.

A new guide for managers published by the CIPD and the charity Mind aims to reduce the stigma attached to mental health problems. Practical measures recommended include: managing workloads effectively; giving staff opportunities to talk about work and home pressures; and providing appropriate coaching and support where necessary. You don't need a degree in psychiatry to see how that could help your business.

Michael Burd and James Davies, Lewis Silkin LLP solicitors, email:

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