One in four people is likely to experience a mental health problem at some point.

Having a job tends to be good for your mental health. It lets you develop as a person and meet new people. Plus, it gives you an income to help you do the things you enjoy. It can also keep you busy and offer healthy challenges.

But work can trigger mental health problems, too.

Getting the balance right is important.

What is mental health?

Mental health is about how you feel, think and behave. It isn't something people can see. It involves your mood, happiness and levels of anxiety and stress.

Having good mental health is crucial for us all.

But mental health problems are common. They include:

  • anxiety
  • burnout
  • depression
  • eating disorders
  • phobias
  • stress
  • obsessions.

Many mental health problems are mild, short-term and treatable.

A problem can build up over time or be triggered after something happens. It's important that we recognise a problem when it appears.

But some people live with mental health problems for a long time - or even their whole life.

Poor mental health can be classed as a disability. It's considered a disability if it has a long-term effect on your normal activities. Your condition is long term if it lasts, or is likely to last, at least 12 months.

Responsibilities of employers

The workplace can be a source of mental health problems. Sometimes it can worsen problems that already exist.

Employers have a legal responsibility to look after the people they employ.

If an employee has a mental health problem, their employer must take it seriously. They must act when it is necessary.

Employers should make reasonable adjustments to the workplace to support people who have problems at work.

It's illegal for employers to discriminate against an employee because of a disability.

What to do if you think you've got a mental health problem

If the way you think, feel or behave is having an impact on you and the people around you, speak to a doctor who can offer you advice.

If you are experiencing a mental health problem at work, you can speak to your manager or HR team about it. But you are not required to do so. Mental health can be difficult to talk about.

Your employer has a responsibility to support you and could:

  • change your working hours
  • change how you do your job
  • change where you do your job
  • give you specialist equipment
  • help your colleagues to understand you better
  • help to build your confidence
  • offer you a phased return to work if you've been off.

And, if you need any extra help with a mental health condition that makes it hard for you to do your job, you can apply to the Access to Work scheme on GOV.UK.

There are also steps you can take to stay healthy at work:

  • talk about how you feel with others
  • ask for help if you need it
  • take regular breaks
  • keep active
  • eat well
  • limit your alcohol intake
  • get enough and proper sleep.

If you feel you've been the victim of discrimination due to a mental health problem, you could have a claim at an employment tribunal.

Talk to your employer first. If that fails, seek legal advice.

During Covid-19

According to a survey, more than half the people in the UK felt worried, stressed or anxious because of Covid-19.

Many people have been worried about their health, income and social isolation. Some have been concerned about friends and family members.

Even if you are working from home or on furlough, your employer still owes a duty of care to you.

Employers should keep in touch with their staff regularly. They should check in with them and encourage them to share any fears or worries they have.

A good work-life balance has become even more important as people work from home. Try to do things you enjoy and keep in touch with friends and family.

Need help?

Try these sources of help and information:

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Your Comments

Patricia says:

Tue, 01/12/2021 - 15:29
Comment
Hi. I work in a nursing home and have suffered with panic disorder off and on for 40 years. As it's developed into agrophobia I only really travel to work and back. Apart from that I very rarely go out. I have had several sessions with a hypnotherapist who has taken me back to something horrendous that happened in my childhood. I had no control over what happened. I'm very reluctant at this time about having the covid 19 vaccine as again once I'm vaccinated I am not in control of what is happening inside my body. Will it be mandatory for health care staff to be vaccinated in order to continue to work with elderly vulnerable adults

Sharon Elsbury says:

Wed, 03/31/2021 - 09:51
Comment
I left my job, after 10 years with the ambulance service, 2 years ago. I had mental health problems, from the job and its still affecting me now.
I left as I was getting no support from HR or my managers. I requested flexible working, as I was struggling with 12 hour night shifts, which was denied. No adjustments were made, even though occupational health recommended them. I left to go to another job but didn't last long as my anxiety was triggered by a new job, new people etc. I have been unemployed since.
Is it too late to take things further?

Andrew Sherratt says:

Sun, 04/18/2021 - 14:29
Comment
Found it very helpful. Get the impression my workplace and employers only do the bare minimum on most things concerning the well being of their employees whether it’s mental health or Covid.

Diane Wilkinson says:

Mon, 04/19/2021 - 10:46
Comment
Hi my name is Diane and I suffer with depression and I have a learning disability called elins syndrome a form dislxcia and work in care but don't get now help with my learning difficulties and get very up set about this because I what to achieve meney thing but get put at the back I all so just been off work for 4 months with covid and frached foot i called work to tell them I will be back to work. I was told over the fone I need to do my learning before I come back so I was not happy but told them it would not be like that if I got support what I am intiteld to it just makes me feel like I don't get support they just don't want to help me out so can you tell me what i can do about this problem please

Rashid Ali says:

Sun, 05/02/2021 - 12:41
Comment
Hiya I was working for Tesco when I got really poorly with my mental health I was admitted to hospital on a mental health ward My manager phoned me and told me I should leave he made me hand in my notice over the phone so I did I was gutted been in hospital on numerous occasions now and still not well .I now have a support worker and a care coordinator but still not working.

Angel says:

Wed, 05/12/2021 - 09:22
Comment
I have a diagnosis of ADHD and dyslexia and struggle some days with staying on focus.
We have had issues with the lack of staff which as left me a lot of responsibility and I have had to organise my own diary so I have been able to adapt to these issues although I started to suffer with anxiety and work did not support me and I was signed off with workplace anxiety, stress and burnout my new manager was totally dismissive of this issue or my conditions so had to raise a Grievance I think some employers do very little until you actually go down an official route and have to listen, more needs to be done to ensure employees are treat fairly.

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