A guide to writing a mental health and wellbeing policy for your employees

In this article, we’ll outline the importance of prioritising employee mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, explore the benefits of implementing a policy, and provide a guideline for anyone wanting to write their own.

min read

Every single person, no matter their age, gender, race or where they work, has to contend with their mental health and wellbeing. Until the last few years, mental health was seen as a “taboo” subject and unsuitable topic of conversation for the workplace.

Today, we are finally beginning to recognise the impact mental health struggles can have on personal and professional lives, and more and more companies are putting support structures in place to help maintain a happy and productive workforce. Having a mental health and wellbeing policy in place is not only good practice, but a great way for managers and senior leaders to demonstrate their commitment to employee health and welfare, open up important conversations around mental health issues, and help build an inclusive and supportive company culture.

In this article, we’ll outline the importance of prioritising employee mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, explore the benefits of implementing a policy, and provide a guideline for anyone wanting to write their own.

The need for mental health and wellbeing support in the workplace

Despite progress being made around mental health awareness and support accessibility, we still have a long way to go. The reality is that mental health and wellbeing struggles are still very prominent in the workplace. You just have to look at the statistics:

  • A report published by the Government in 2014 found that 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions.
  • 51% of long-term sick leave can be attributed to anxiety, depression or stresses of life, according to a 2022 study.
  • In 2023, the Chartered Institute of Personal Development (CIPD) carried out a survey of over 2000 women aged between 40 and 60. 67% of respondents cited psychological disturbances such as anxiety, depression or memory loss as the most impactful symptoms of menopause, and that they had a mostly negative     impact on them at work.

To add to this, we’ve seen firsthand how HR managers can often feel under-equipped and undertrained to deal with the mental health concerns oftheir employees. Surveys conducted in 2023 by MHFA England found that one in three managers felt out of their depth supporting their team through mental health struggles, and 70% cited organisational barriers (such as company policy, poor workplace culture and a lack of training) as preventing them from providing their employees with the support they need.

As a company, you can help tackle these issues through the support and measures you put in place, including writing and putting into practice policies that prioritise the health of employees.

How a mental health and wellbeing policy can provide support

Company policies are essential for many different reasons including establishing standards of behaviour and providing clear guidelines to senior team members or HR leaders on how to act in specific situations. A mental health and wellbeing policy is no exception. Here are just some of the reasons we believe them to be important:

  1. Guidance and framework: A mental health policy provides a clear framework for addressing mental health issues within the workplace, offering guidance on how to promote mental wellbeing, and support employees who may be struggling.
  2. Prevention and early intervention: A policy can outline procedures for identifying and addressing issues at an early stage before they escalate.
  3. Legal Compliance: Although having a mental health policy isn’t a legal obligation for a company, employers still have a ‘duty of care’ to their employees’ health     and wellbeing. Having a policy in place helps ensure that these standards are met.
  4. Promoting a positive culture: A mental health policy tells employees that their wellbeing is a priority at their company, helping build a positive and supportive workplace culture where individuals feel valued and cared for.
  5. Reducing stigma around mental health: A policy can help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health by opening up important conversations and encouraging  employees to seek support without being concerned that it will affect their career.
  6. Improving performance: A policy will remind and clarify to employees that the wellbeing support available to them. This will encourage them to use that support when necessary and help them get back to their best selves as soon as possible.

Having a mental health policy in place demonstrates a commitment to supporting employees' mental wellbeing and promoting a healthier and more productive working environment. Hit the button below to learn more about how Fertifa can help you build a genuinely happy and productive workplace.

What to include in your mental health and wellbeing policy

Mental health is such a broad topic that encompasses so many different conditions. Every individual will have a unique relationship with their mental health and their own journey navigating personal difficulties.Because of this, writing an inclusive policy that recognises everyone’s mental health story might seem like an daunting task.

However, by emphasising that mental health support is available to all, acknowledging difference, and setting out the support systems your company will make available, your policy can become a source of reassurance to your employees.

To help you get started, we’ve assembled a checklist of the key points we think every good mental health policy should include. By no means is this a blueprint, but you may find these useful points to keep in mind as you begin to write your policy.

If you would like a more detailed guideline, please see our mental health and wellbeing policy template.

  • Clearly signpost the policy -  sometimes companies have policies but no one knows where to find them (is it in the handbook, is it on their internal system? etc)
  • Define mental health and wellbeing – This can be short, but we think it’s important to show employees that your company understands that triggers for poor mental health will vary from person to person,.
  • Describe how your company will commit to supporting employees and establishing a safe, inclusive and open working environment. It’s always a good idea to reassure your employees that promoting an open and honest culture is a priority. Here are some things you can include to help you do that:

a) Establish employee work groups or a mental health “champion.” This will provide your employees with clear direction on who to approach should they need support.

b) Detailed description of the training managers and senior leaders will receive to equip them with the tools they need to support and guide their workforce through mental health struggles.

If you would like further guidance on mental health and wellbeing or any of the topics mentioned above, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Fertifa team 💜