To comply with best practice, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommends that organisations follow the Management Standards approach for tackling work-related stress. The Management Standards approach was first introduced in 2004 to help organisations understand what they need to do to assess and manage the risks to employee wellbeing posed by work-related stress. They are based on the familiar ‘Five steps to risk assessment’ model, requiring management and staff to work together.
To supplement the HSE Management Standards across its organisation, Knowsley Council trialled a number of additional resources designed to further support and manage poor mental health at work. Since 2010 they analysed, tracked and trended sickness absence due to poor mental health using a formula designed to highlight the true cost and prevalence within their own organisation.
Knowsley Council’s research highlights that a workplace environment and working culture that promotes wellbeing can reduce the risks of poor mental health and support those in work who are experiencing poor mental health. This is reinforced by cultivating an open, supportive organisation where people understand the importance of wellbeing and feel able to talk about physical and mental health. This has been achieved by:
- introducing a bespoke range of manager and employee information and guidance leaflets/brochures (Let’s talk about…);
- hosting health and wellbeing events and campaigns each year to raise awareness of mental health;
- reviewing Human Resources, Occupational Health and Safety Policies and procedures (Individual Stress Risk Assessment ISRA);
- increasing the use of informal and formal mediation;
- implementation of a confidential Listeners Scheme;
- securing volunteers across the organisation to act as Mental Health Champions;
- working collaboratively with other Public Sector organisations across the UK;
- Improving occupational health referrals for mental health and the use of WRAPS (Wellness Recovery Action Plans);
- Introducing library books on prescription;
- Implementing the Knowsley Health Trainer Service website resource: https://www.healthyknowsley.co.uk//; and
- providing access to training and support – Mental Health First Aid, Integrated Resilience, Mental Health Awareness (E-learning packages), Perdita (Bereavement support), Mindful yoga, Pilates, Relaxation therapies, Food and mood.
In line with the HSE’s Helping Great Britain Work Well priority themes (The HSE’s five-year strategy to further improve the UK’s safety record), Knowsley Council teamed up with PIXUS in 2016 and developed an online resource called MHAPS (Mental Health Awareness in the Public Sector). MHAPS was officially launched across Knowsley Council in 2017 and has been made available for use by other Public Sector organisations through an annual subscription.
The new resource allows subscribing Public Sector organisations access to:
- a web based employee survey that can be completed electronically by desktop and/or smartphone;
- a dashboard that allows administrators to create their own bespoke site;
- instant employee and organisational results with bespoke resolution plans with the option to benchmark results against other member organisations;
- Public sector benchmarking of sickness absence due to stress/mental health regardless of organisation size, using the SFR (Stress Frequency Ratio);
- information, support and advice for employees and managers in relation to mental health and stress;
- ongoing advice and support for the organisational management of stress via a virtual help desk;
- bespoke training for members;
- template policies and procedures;
- key contact details for member organisations – to facilitate collaboration;
- an annual Conference; and
- advertising opportunity for training and events.