Insights | June 26, 2023

Mental health aspects must be considered also in the workplace

Complex mental health issues are an increasingly common phenomenon in workplaces around the world. Mental health issues often manifest themselves in various workplace conflicts, periods of prolonged sick-leave or increased sick-leave rates, underperformance, and leadership challenges, among other things.

What can employers do?

Employers can prevent and acknowledge mental health issues in the workplace in many ways, such as:

  • Promoting a thriving, supportive, open, diverse, caring, safe and equal environment in the workplace by incorporating these values into the corporate strategy and implementing them in all decision-making.
  • Utilizing HR expertise in leadership training, creating clear job descriptions and divisions of duties as well as implementing clear policies and processes for preventing and resolving workplace conflicts.
  • Encouraging open, continuous, and honest communication, which is key in building trust and improving cooperation in the workplace.
  • Taking supportive measures to ensure the physical and mental recovery as well as the resilience of the employees, such as implementing a wellbeing strategy, mentoring and tutoring, social activities, health-related benefits as well as support and flexibility regarding family duties.

What can the employees do?

Employees can also help in preventing mental health issues in the workplace and supporting colleagues who struggle with these issues. Open, continuous and honest communication as well as building a healthy and supportive working culture are just some examples of the many ways in which employees themselves can actively participate in making the working environment better for everyone.

It is also important that employees know their own limits and actively evaluate how they are coping at work as well as their mental workload.

Legal support?

Mental health remains one of the strongest taboos in working life. Employment lawyers have a key role to play in preventing and addressing mental health issues in the workplace. Although there are a number of legal measures that can be taken in mental health-related situations in the workplace, it is important for lawyers to recognize other ways to address mental health-related issues in the workplace as well.

Providing assistance and tools for managers to face such situations is one important aspect of the support. Learning about mental health issues and partnering with experts such as doctors and psychologists are paramount to be able to address such situations adequately. By raising awareness and being active, lawyers can contribute positively to the public conversation about mental health issues and promote breaking taboos.

The European Employment Lawyers Association’s (EELA) 25th Anniversary Conference was arranged in Bucharest, Romania in June 2023. Our experienced employment law expert, Principal Associate Mari Mohsen was a session speaker at the event, focusing on the highly topical subject of mental health issues in the workplace. The other speakers in the session were Partner and UK Head of Employment & Labour Adam Lambert from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP, Professor of Psychology and Chair of the Doctoral School of Psychology and Educational Sciences Dragos Iliescu from the University of Bucharest and Stellenbosch University, and Partner Anna Lyne from Hayes Solicitors LLP.