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Supporting employees with mental health problems

Having a mental health problem does not stop someone with experience, skills and training being the right person for the job. The value added by people in the UK working with mental health problems is £226 billion per year. If you’re a manager, effectively supporting employees with mental health problems means you can employ and retain them, and let them to work to their best.

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Imagine if someone in your team felt they had to hide a back problem from you. They struggle to their computer but they can’t concentrate – the chair is making their pain worse. Their condition deteriorates as they try to hide it. They end up having an operation without telling you and they’re off sick much longer term. You think it’s a problem with their attitude or ability and your working relationship suffers.

It sounds improbable. Think about how comfortable you would actually feel supporting someone with a back problem. An open conversation and a few practical changes would mean they were able to work to full capacity again.

But would you feel equally comfortable if the problem were with someone’s mental health? You should do, and in fact the approach may not be all that different. Many problems can be supported in the workplace, helping people to live and work well, and preventing long-term absence.

Managers also have legal responsibilities in this area. This section explains more about this legal duty, and provides advice and guidance for support and good practice.

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