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Creating a mentally healthy organisation: the win-win solution

If your organisation has a well-developed diversity & inclusion strategy there is a 20% chance, just a 20% chance, that this includes a developed approach to mental wellness in the workplace. Yet mental health issues account for the greatest number of days lost due to employee absence.

According to a government-commissioned study, published by Deloitte in 2017, the organisational cost associated with mental health is £1,400 per employee (that's across all employees, not just those with mental wellness challenges).

That's a staggering cost.  But more than that, the same study shows that there is a 400% return on investment for employers who provide a supportive environment for those employees with mental wellness challenges.

If your organisation is representative of the UK workforce then you face a problem which has a solution. The problem is this:

When it comes to solving workplace absence; you already provide ergonomic chairs, desks, keyboards and screens to help your employees with musculoskeletal problems.

That's great; but did you know that you are solving a problem which has less of an impact on your business than mental health?

If you decide to tackle the bigger problem of workplace mental health, you will be helping both your business and your employees. Your business could enjoy decreased absence, increased staff satisfaction, lower grievance & litigation costs and more.

Supporting 100 employees with their mental health can cost less than the price of an ergonomic workstation for one employee.

For less than the cost of an ergonomic workstation you can provide:

  • one to one resilience and performance coaching for an individual with a mental health challenges

  • a business-wide understanding of how mental health issues impact your organisation and the development of an approach to workplace mental wellness that is positive both for the organisation and for its employees

  • group coaching & training for several line managers to help them develop an understanding of how to handle mental health challenges for their direct reports

This is definitely a win-win scenario. If you don't have a strategic approach to mental wellness in your organisation - whether workplace or school or university; then your organisation does suffer from increased turnover (resignations for employees or drop-outs for students), lower productivity, more absence, more grievance, more complaints and less satisfied staff or students as a result of your approach to mental health.

Yet if you provide support you get the positive opposite of these things. And the cost of implementing this support is a fraction of what you are currently losing.

This isn't about whether you should.  It's about whether you are inclined to.

References connected with illustrations above:

  1. NatCen Social Research Report on British Social Attitudes, 2016

  2. CIPD Report on Employee Outlook: Focus on Mental Health in the Workplace, 2016

  3. CIPD, 2016 Report

  4. HSE Report, Labour Force Survey, October 2016

I wish you well — Jonathan Phelan

About Jonathan Phelan

Jonathan is the author of “The Art of the Mentally Healthy Conversation” which tells the story of how Jonathan learned how to manage the challenge of a mental health condition following a child bereavement. The book helps the reader discover how to have mentally healthy conversations, which are more likely to result in support, rather than stigma. It also promotes the benefits of workplaces, universities and schools nurturing a culture in which it is normal for people to talk about their mental health and to offer mutual support for wellbeing and resilience.

Jonathan has held a senior leadership position in a large financial services organisation since 2004, with a long-term career in law, law enforcement and consumer protection. When he went through the trauma of a child bereavement he gained an insight into the obstacles people face when they have mental wellbeing challenges. More importantly he learned how to overcome those obstacles by improving the way we talk about our wellbeing and resilience.

Through his talks, workshops and book Jonathan shares his personal story. Using the drama of how mental health has been portrayed in film, and his own particular take on how our brains process information, Jonathan guides the listener to discover more effective ways to talk about mental wellbeing.

Jonathan also promotes the concept of mutual support for wellbeing; based on the belief that we should all aim to make it normal for people to talk about their mental wellbeing, just as we are already willing to talk about physical wellbeing.


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