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World Mental Health Day on October 10th focused attention on the need to protect people from mental health issues, and organisations are now being urged to implement policies to safeguard the mental health of employees.


There has been much anxiety about COVID-19 and the expected recession across the nation. Though these causes of anxiety are outside the control of businesses, Dr Anne Sammon of law firm Pinsent Masons has said that organisations should have proactive safety policies that manage mental health risks.


Dr Sammon pointed out that employers have a legal duty for safeguarding the physical and mental health of their employees. In 2004, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published its Management Standards, which outlines the recommended approach to dealing with work-related stress. If an employee has mental health issues, the HSE Management Standards asks employers to have a proactive stance to both help the member of staff and to reduce the legal risk.


The Quality Act of 2010 mandates employers must provide facilities for disabled people, including staff with mental impairments. When creating health and safety policies, a risk assessment will highlight areas where PPE (personal protective equipment) masks and social distancing must be implemented.


However, Dr Sammon said that a risk assessment should also consider ways of safeguarding mental health, especially for employees working from home who feel isolated. In response to COVID-19, organisations all over the world are developing new health and safety guidelines. Many new mental health protection standards are being created that are targeted at protecting the psychological health of workers.

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