Much has been written over the last month or so about Mental Health, and rightly so. It has now overtaken back pain as the principal cause of workplace absence in the UK. Anything which encourages an environment in which mental health issues may be more openly discussed and genuine sufferers’ sense of isolation or embarrassment reduced must be a good thing.
The recent Stevenson/Farmer report (under review in our Thriving At Work series on this blog) contains numerous recommendations to Government, employers and the public sector about the handling of employees with mental health conditions, but sadly none to the employees themselves. I wonder, for the reasons below, if that is not an opportunity missed.
Recognising fully that this will potentially strike a rather jarring note in the prevailing mood, we cannot ignore the reality that some employees claim stress or anxiety or depression or “low mood” as a response or defence to the prospect of a difficult meeting with their employer. They may then claim to be too sick to attend the meeting in question and so the employer’s performance management, grievance or redundancy consultation process is stopped in its tracks, to its inevitable and growing frustration.