It’s time to tackle mental health in the workplace

24 February 2017 | By Amanda George

In this post, Rob Michael-Phillips, our Lead Associate for Mental Health, talks about why we need to change the culture around mental health and wellbeing at work – and how our new offer builds on our experience in person-centred approaches to do just that.


At some point, most of us have probably experienced stress or unhappiness at work. After all, for many of us, it’s where we spend a large proportion of our time; and pressure to perform can take its toll. But should we just be taking this as part-and-parcel of modern life, or is there more that we could be doing to support good mental health and wellbeing in the workplace?

We think there is. According to Mind, the mental health charity, at least 1 in 6 people in the average workplace suffer from mental health problems. This takes its toll on the people themselves, and on the organisation as a whole – with more than 1 in 5 people having called in sick due to stress, and a staggering 42% of people having considered resignation as a result. For those who don’t resign, but aren’t at their best, employee engagement and happiness are all impacted; which in turn affect their productivity. So as well as being simply the right thing to do, taking a proactive approach to mental health is also good for the bottom line and for staff retention.


What could we be doing differently?

Although campaigns such as CALM are making a positive impact on changing attitudes, much of society still sees mental health as a taboo subject; and the workplace is no exception.

To change this we need to design an approach for a team, department or for a whole organisation. We need to look at everything from mental health training to wellness strategies, as well as how we can create a supportive culture which makes conversations about mental health and wellbeing more straightforward. Most importantly, we need to give colleagues and managers the skills and tools they need to make a difference.

Some of the tools at our disposal include:

  • Organisational wellness strategies and implementation plans
  • Individual Wellness Action Plans
  • Training people to use person-centred thinking tools to learn about what matters to each individual
  • Supporting managers to have constructive, safe conversations about mental health and wellbeing with staff
  • The 5 Ways to Wellbeing
  • Creating a culture of appreciation at work


Working together for better mental health

Workplaces come in many shapes and sizes, with unique cultures and values and their own staff dynamics. Because of this, it’s vital work closely with staff to create a bespoke approach to mental health and wellbeing that is tailored to the organisation’s particular needs.

Our experience in creating person-centred change, taking the time to understand what really matters to people, is at the core of our mental health offer; as it is our work as a whole. Once we understand this, we can co-create a plan to create the change that people want to see.

We’re really excited to be developing our offers around mental health and wellbeing at work. We hope you’ll agree that it’s time for a change; and together we can create a more supportive, person-centred workplace where everybody can flourish.


Rob Michael-Phillips is the Lead Associate for Mental Health at Helen Sanderson Associates. Prior to joining HSA, he was Director and then Chief Executive of Buckinghamshire Mind and acted as a Community Governor of Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust.

To find out more about how we could support better mental health and wellbeing in your workplace, email or connect with Rob on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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