1. Stress Risk Assessments 

Businesses with 5 or more employees now have a legal duty to protect their team from stress at work by doing a Stress Risk Assessment, writing it down and acting on it.

If you have fewer than 5 workers you don’t have to write anything down, however the HSE recommends that it is useful to still do this, so that you can review it later, for example if something changes. 

Stress Risk Assessment Tool

The HSE’s website provides access to an online tool which can be used to anonymously survey your employees and gather the results into a report. You need a minimum of 10 responses to make it worthwhile.


FREE if you have less than 50 employees.  For employers with larger teams, pricing is shown on the HSE website (link below) or you could set up your own survey using the HSE questions (Microsoft Forms and Google Docs both offer free survey options and there are both free and paid options available via services such as Survey Monkey).

All HSE survey and risk assessment details can be found hereStress Indicator Tool

Further guidance on managing work related stress is available on the HSE websiteWork-related stress and how to manage it: overview – HSE

If you would like any help with this, please let me know.

2. Mental Health Reasonable Adjustments – new ACAS Guidance

Every week I get a call from a client who has an employee who is either absent or struggling at work due to their mental health. Helpfully, ACAS has launched new guidance on Reasonable Adjustments for Mental Health.

While reasonable adjustments are specific to the individual employee, they might include things such as (where practical and reasonable for the business to offer these):

  • Changes to someone’s role eg:
    • reviewing tasks or deadlines to help someone have a reasonable workload while managing their mental health
    • breaking down work into short term tasks to reduce the complexity of someone’s work and to provide structure to the working day
    • reviewing someone’s responsibilities to reduce those that are more stressful – for example reducing phone calls or customer facing work
    • moving someone into a different role or department if their current job has a negative impact on their mental health
  • Changes to someone’s physical working environment eg:
    • allowing someone to work from home to manage distractions or engage in activities that allow them to manage their mental health – for example, so they can take regular breaks without feeling other people are watching them
    • relocating someone’s workspace to a quieter area to reduce sensory demands
    • providing rest areas away from the main staff area to allow someone to rest away from social demands
  • Changes to someone’s working arrangements eg: working hours, days, start and finish times, flexibility etc
  • Finding a different way to do something eg: agreeing a preferred communication method to help reduce anxiety – for example by avoiding spontaneous phone calls
  • Adapting the way policies are applied eg 
    • offering an extended phased return to support someone to build up hours gradually and continue their recovery
    • offering paid time off for someone to attend appointments during working hours
    • being flexible with absence trigger points so that someone is not disadvantaged by taking absence when they are unwell due to factors at work
  • Providing access to support services – see section 5 below
  • Other support eg
    • modifying supervision to provide regular check-ins, prioritising work and creating structure in the working day
    • providing training or coaching to build confidence in skills relevant to the job
    • providing a buddy or mentor to be a dedicated person who can support with work tasks

The full ACAS guidance can be found atReasonable adjustments for mental health – Acas

Causes and signs of stress: Managing work-related stress – Acas

3. What is Mental Health First Aid?

Mental health first aiders are trained employees who are a point of contact for colleagues who are experiencing a mental health issue or emotional distress. Mental health first aiders are trained to listen in a non-judgmental manner and to guide the individual, encouraging them to access relevant support. Such employees are there to lend an ear and reduce the stigma associated with talking about mental health. Mental health first aid training also aims to raise awareness of mental health conditions in the workplace.

Face to face Mental Health First Aid training is available via local providers such as Optimise Learning and St Johns Ambulance

Or online via companies such as Learning Curve (fully funded) Level 2 Course in Mental Health First Aid | Learning Curve Group

4. Free, online, Mental Health Awareness training for all team members  

If you google “online Mental Health training free” you will find a variety of options to choose from, including:

Every Mind at Work’s free, 1 hour Everymind Champion interactive course which equips team members with the tools to support themselves and others in the workplace, alongside giving them practical suggestions to improve mental health within the business. This is a great introduction for everyone.

Learning Curve are currently offering the following 7-week online qualifications for free ie fully funded :

Level 2 Certificate in Awareness of Mental Health Problems | Learning Curve Group

Level 2 Course in Mental Health First Aid and Health Advocacy in the Workplace | Learning Curve Group

Learning Curve – Men’s Mental Health 

The number of men who have suicidal thoughts has doubled since 2009. Although men are now more likely to see a therapist if they’re feeling worried or low, there’s still a long way to go to ensure that men are supported with their mental health.

This free online course covers the signs, symptoms and triggers of poor mental health, as well as the differences in how some mental health conditions present themselves in men compared to women. 

Further details are here: Certificate in Awareness of Men’s Mental Health Problems | Learning Curve Group

5. Access Free Mental Health Support for You and Your Team

Some resources that might be of help are:

NHS – Answer 5 simple questions to get your free, personalised mental health action plan with tips and advice to help you be kind to your mind. Your mind plan

Maximus – is now the provider of the Department for Work and Pensions free Access to Work Mental Health Support Service. The link below will take you to a collection of resources to help you and your team make the most out of this cost-free support. You’ll be able to download materials to share with your team and also find details of mental health training courses and other useful resources. 

Employer’s Mental Health Support Toolkit

Employees can also Self-refer themselves here for 1:1 help.

Every Mind At Work’s information, resources and webinar recordings can be found at: Resources – Everymind At Work

Mind – provides employers with further free resources, such as a Wellness Action Plan which provides a structure and some questions to ask when discussing the issues an employee might be experiencing and the help that they might need from you. 

Other helpful resources in the Mind website are:

Mental Health At Work


6. Where to start with all of this??

To help you get started and sort your way through and around all of the information provided in this update, I have listed below a basic outline action plan to set you on your way.

  • Step 1 – Understand how things currently stand in your business by conducting a risk assessment to find out how people are feeling, the issues their jobs might be causing, what the potential solutions might look like and then document your findings. To do this you can use either the HSE’s Stress Indicator Tool (as covered in section 1 of this communication) or your own survey / team discussion(s).
  • Step 2 – Once you have identified the key issues and their associated solutions, the next step is to produce, implement and communicate your mental health at work plan. The plan must be specific to your business and survey findings, but might include actions such as:
    • Arranging mental health awareness training for all workers.
    • Paying for some members of the team to become qualified Mental Health First Aiders.
    • Encouraging open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling, using formats such as the Wellness Action Plan available from Mind.
    • Adopting effective people management and confidential support mechanisms – if your team feel that they can’t talk to others within the business in total confidence, then they won’t reach out for the help that they need and at some point will probably end up going off sick.
    • Sharing resources and contact details with the team for external support services.
    • Keeping mental health on the agenda in your team meetings and communications, to break down the stigma often associated with mental health struggles.

      Note: The cost of living crisis is having an ongoing detrimental effect on people’s well-being. Details of some of the the financial support and advice available can be found here Free Support Available to Your Team – Mental Health and Finances,
  • Step 3 – Review the progress of your plan at relevant intervals to make sure that agreed actions are being implemented, issues are being ironed out quickly and to make any changes or tweaks as appropriate. Then communicate your updates to the team – If you don’t tell them, they will just assume that the whole initiative has fallen off the radar and was a waste of time.
  • Step 4 – Repeat the survey periodically to monitor the effectiveness of solutions introduced and the ongoing levels of wellbeing within your team. Bear in mind, as time goes on, the needs of your team are likely to change, which means that your plans will also need to change.

If you have managed to read to the bottom of this, well done and thank you! Haha!

If you need help with completing a risk assessment and producing an action plan, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Nicky.

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