Mental health issues have a strong effect on the health and well-being of employees and on work organisations. There is growing research into the relationships between mental health, productivity, absence from work and the related costs to businesses and the economy as a whole. ACAS commissioned IER to undertake case study work to explore how Suffolk County Council has responded to the challenge of managing mental health at work and what role training by ACAS has played in the process. The aim was to deepen understanding of workplace responses to mental health, enable ACAS to evaluate the impact of their work with employers on this issue and update their guidance on promoting positive mental health at work. The case study takes an equalities-based approach to discussing mental health at work: it considers how broader social issues including job insecurity and outsourcing of work inequalities impact on UK workers’ wellbeing.
The research found that buy-in from organisations is essential. Senior management support is essential in embedding mental health training as part of a broader organisational strategy. If tools and training materials developed by ACAS are to be used by organisations, these materials need to be tailorable to each organisation’s unique needs.
The case study was launched on World Mental Health Day 2017. Evidence from the case study has been used by ACAS to further develop guidance, tools and training materials on the management of mental health for employers and other organisations. To promote further take-up of these materials, evidence from the case study demonstrating the use of these materials by a country council was presented to approximately 50 HR professionals at the ACAS Conference on Employee Engagement and Dispute Resolution in the Future Workplace in February 2019.