Honour your mental health pledges by offering employees access to counselling whenever they need it.
It’s 2023. Not having a mental health policy isn’t an option anymore.
But, your company is unique and this year, your team will have its own challenges, priorities, and goals. So, how do you go about creating a mental health in the workplace policy that suits the specific needs of your business? Well, that’s where our mental health policy templates and initiatives can help.
We’ve created this guide to help you build and implement a mental health at work policy tailored to your company. In it, you’ll learn about:
- what a mental health in the workplace policy actually is (and why it’s important)
- mental health policy templates, plans, and initiatives for your company
- how to successfully get your workplace mental health policy up and running
- who’s responsible for your company’s mental health workplace policy
How to use the mental health policy templates
There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to mental health, especially in the workplace, which is why each of the templates and initiatives included in this guide are exactly that: mental health policy examples that will equip you with the knowledge and tools to create your own workplace mental health strategy.
If you’re just getting started with a mental health in the workplace policy, use this guide to help you take the first steps and make a long-term commitment to a better way of working. And if you’re further along, this guide can help you formalise and develop your existing mental health policy at work. Use the templates as they come, or make a copy and adjust them to suit the mental health needs and challenges in your team.
Remember, your employee mental health policy should help create a positive culture where your team feels safe to talk about their mental health. By taking the time to formally document your policies, you’re showing your current and future employees that you care about their mental wellbeing.
What is a ‘mental health in the workplace’ policy?
A mental health in the workplace policy outlines how a company supports anyone struggling with work-related or personal mental health challenges, as well as what the company does more broadly to ensure its working environment isn’t contributing towards poor mental health.
A mental health in the workplace policy is a set of guidelines and procedures developed by a company to promote and support its employees’ mental wellbeing. It also outlines what a company does more broadly to ensure its working environment isn’t contributing towards poor mental health. Essentially, it's your company’s commitment to creating a mentally safe and healthy working environment, while also providing a framework to help tackle mental health challenges your team may experience.
Your mental health at work policy should outline what support is available to your employees if they’re struggling with their mental health as a result of both work-related or personal problems. Keep these three main objectives front of mind when building your company’s mental health policy:
- A mental health in the workplace policy should raise awareness of mental health challenges at work and fight the stigma surrounding it: there’ll be no discrimination against people with mental health issues.
- A mental health in the workplace policy will proactively support mental health, rather than react to it, positively impacting mental wellbeing.
- A mental health in the workplace policy will promote the support and resources available: it’s essential that everyone knows about the types of support they can access.
Download our workplace mental health policy template
Why every organisation today needs a mental health in the workplace policy
For too long, employees have soldiered on feeling less than their best. This year, 17% of workers will struggle so much with a diagnosed mental health condition that they’ll be unable to work or function. A further 38% will be languishing: they’ll feel low, unmotivated, flat, burnt out, or anxious — and even though they’ll still be able to turn up to work and carry out day-to-day tasks, they won’t be feeling great.
That’s over half of employees struggling with their mental health. And even with the remaining 45% feeling okay, there’s no doubt team morale — and therefore output — will take a hit.
By creating a mental health and wellbeing policy for your company, you can expect to:
✅ Increase your team’s productivity
A workplace mental health policy helps your employees deal with personal and work-related challenges that when ignored, will affect their ability to work: research from Saïd Business School suggests that, on average, happier employees are 13% more productive.
✅ Save your company’s money
Poor mental health leads to presenteeism (people showing up at work but unable to do their job), time off (on average, people take 18 days off due to poor mental health), and staff turnover: reduce these, and you could save around £1,529 per employee, per year.
✅ Meet your legal obligations as an employer
As an employer, you have a legal responsibility to look after your team’s physical and mental health: a thorough workplace mental health policy will help you responsibly care for your employees’ emotional wellbeing.
✅ Build a psychologically safe workplace
Psychological safety is the key to an effective team and it goes hand-in-hand with mental health. With the right workplace mental health policies in place, your team will feel emotionally secure enough to bring their whole selves to work — and when that happens, they’ll feel safe enough to speak up, share ideas, and express their (real) opinions.
✅ Show your employees that you care about them as people
With a well-designed workplace mental health policy, you’re sending a very clear message to your team that you recognise the importance of mental health, value their wellbeing, and are committed to creating a supportive work environment. And when employees feel their mental health needs are prioritised, they’re more likely to be engaged, motivated, and committed to their work, and the company.
What makes a successful mental health in the workplace policy?
A successful mental health in the workplace policy works for everyone, whether they’re living with a diagnosed mental health issue or going through a period of poor mental wellbeing.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines mental health as “a state of wellbeing in which an individual … can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to contribute to his or her community.”
So, when someone can’t cope with the normal stresses of life, can’t work productively, and can’t contribute to their community, they’re experiencing poor mental health. When we talk about a ‘mental health in the workplace policy’, we really mean a policy that helps prevent and address poor mental health in your team.
By ‘poor mental health’, we mean a diagnosed mental health issue (currently affecting 17% of the UK adult population) or poor mental wellbeing (which any of us can experience at any time). But — of course there’s a ‘but’ — it’s not that simple: those with a diagnosed mental health issue can also experience differing levels of mental wellbeing on any given day.
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England show this as a continuum:
What this continuum really shows is that an employee can have a serious mental health problem but — with the right support — can still thrive at work. Equally, someone with no diagnosed mental health problem can seriously struggle — and even need extended time off or professional support — due to poor mental wellbeing.
Therefore, a successful workplace mental health policy is one that works for everyone, no matter where they are in the mental health continuum. For a top-level way to gauge how your policy is doing, regularly review how your company is doing compared to these two statements:
- Instances of poor mental wellbeing due to work are low
- Those experiencing poor mental wellbeing and those with a diagnosed mental health condition are able to get the support they need quickly
Spill gives your team quick access to high-quality workplace therapy in just three clicks.
What should a mental health in the workplace policy include?
Your mental health in the workplace policy should help create a positive culture in which your team feels safe to talk about their mental health. But when ignored, policies are just policies that have no real impact on your employees.
Instead, we’ve got a different idea: rather than a standard policy, consider viewing your workplace mental health policy as a series of pledges to your company’s commitment to supporting mental health at work. We’ve identified four pledges that form a comprehensive mental health in the workplace policy:
🧑⚖️ [Your company name] pledges to do no active harm to people by meeting all legal requirements
💙 [Your company name] pledges to be properly equipped to help employees in need
❌ [Your company name] pledges to prevent a culture that worsens employees’ mental wellbeing
⏩ [Your company name] pledges to normalise conversations around mental health at work
Most mental health in the workplace policies are based on a group of questions designed to explain how a company plans to create a mentally healthy work environment. We’ve taken those questions and grouped them with our pledges, along with mental health policy examples, plans, and initiatives that will help your company answer that question and meet your objective.
Here’s what we mean (and you can download this table for your own use, too):
Remember, each of the policies linked in the table are just mental health policy examples: copy and edit them so that they meet the precise needs, challenges, and goals of your team.
Write your policy out formally, on whatever software you use for internal documentation in your company (we like Notion), and make sure that everyone has access to it at all times.
How to include Spill in your mental health in the workplace policy
Here at Spill, we believe that counselling is essential to supporting employee mental health, which is why we offer your team exactly that: immediate access to counselling whenever they need it.
Offering same-day sessions with therapists registered with the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy(BACP), there are no waiting lists or callbacks. And there’s no limit on how your team can use their sessions: perhaps someone is struggling with imposter syndrome, anxiety, or a leadership role, while someone else could be nursing a broken heart, dealing with bereavement, or silently battling an eating disorder.
When it comes to your workplace mental health policy, offering counselling and corporate therapy services like Spill can help you honour your mental health pledges by answering the questions associated with each one:
Meeting all legal requirements for mental health at work
❓ How will you tackle the work-related causes of mental health problems?
Spill offers quick and easy access to highly-qualified counsellors that cover over 50+ specialisms and 10 languages. In the workplace, counselling can help your team deal with thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that may be affecting their ability to work, like trouble sleeping, anxiety, depression, stress, burnout, and more.
❓ How will you make sure you’re not discriminating against anyone with a mental health condition?
Unlike many employee assistance programmes (EAPs), which tend to exclude people with existing mental health conditions, Spill is a counselling provider that anyone in your company can use: there’s no discrimination here.
Being properly equipped to help employees in need
❓ How will you support staff experiencing poor mental health?
Counselling with Spill is available anytime your employees need support: they can even book counselling sessions over the weekend or in the evenings, it’s not just support for working hours. Spill also offers proactive care in the form of Spill Safety Net: a weekly survey checks in with your team and our counsellors will reach out to anyone who might be struggling (e.g. their mood score might suddenly drop or they report negative feelings for a few weeks) to offer advice and a nudge to book a session or course of therapy.
❓ What resources are available inside and outside your company to support mental health and how will you make sure people know how to access and use them?
Spill becomes an internal mental health resource for your company. The weekly team check in feature means everyone will regularly engage with Spill and as an integration with Slack/MS Teams, Spill is a highly visible and easy to use form of mental health support.
Preventing a culture that worsens employees’ mental wellbeing
❓ How will you promote the mental wellbeing of your employees?
Mental health goes hand-in-hand with psychological safety, the idea that everyone in a team feels interpersonally safe enough to speak up, share opinions, and put forward ideas (even the wilder ones). By partnering with Spill to give your team access to professional counselling, you’ll be helping to create a working environment that’s safe, inclusive, and effective.
Normalising conversations around mental health at work
❓ How will you tackle the work-related causes of mental health problems?
The companies that use Spill are committed to tackling the stigma around mental health: offering counselling to your team is a big and incredible move. It raises awareness around mental health at work, normalises the idea of having counselling, and opens up many important conversations involving mental health in the workplace. The fact that Spill is so visible — people can see the integration on their Slack or MS Teams interface every day, and they fill out mood survey questions each week — means that the idea of mental health at work becomes more normalised automatically.
How to successfully implement a workplace mental health policy
Once you’ve put your workplace mental health policy together, sent it round for feedback, and it's been confirmed by other key stakeholders, it’s time to prepare for roll-out.
As with most new company initiatives and policies, communication is key: your team needs to know why your workplace mental health policy exists, where to find it, and how to use the things it mentions. Positive workplace mental health and company culture comes from the top down, so be sure to involve your managers, too.
Five ways to roll-out a new mental health and wellbeing policy
📑 Ask everyone to read the policy
We know, we know: asking people to read a policy document is nigh on impossible. But it’s so important that every single person in your team sees and understands your mental health at work policy. So, hold everyone accountable: set up a Google Form for people to submit once they’re done reading and chase (continually if necessary) the people you don’t hear from. You could also write a tl;dr summary for people to read and agree to.
Rebrand your policy as a set of pledges
Everyone in your company is responsible for the workplace mental health policy (more on that later). So, rather than try and whip up excitement about a policy (snore), get everyone engaged with your pledges: they’re something tangible that everyone can take ownership of, a bit like your company values. Celebrate your workplace mental health policy with a launch event (anything from a day to an hour): host a Q&A about the pledges and what they mean, hold a launch talk, or run user sessions to show people how to use the tools and initiatives you’ve introduced.
🧠 Train your managers
For an employee in the midst of a mental health challenge, it can be difficult to reach out for help. Upskill your managers and make them mental health champions: an engaged, knowledgeable, and well-equipped manager is in the perfect position to offer support during a challenging time. Make sure your managers know your workplace mental health policy in detail, organise mental health training, and perhaps put together a list of resources they can turn to: Mind is a good place to start (as are Spill Guides!).
🆕 Include your mental health at work policy in onboarding
Every new starter should read your workplace mental health policy. Include it in any onboarding documents they receive and be sure to mention it to them in person during the course of their first few days. Not only will this give you the chance to highlight the specifics of the policy, it makes it clear that your company is a mentally safe place to work.
💯 Practise what you preach
Remember, your workplace mental health policy applies to you as well. Your team will follow by example and ultimately, it’s you that has to set it. So, follow your own policy: if your team sees you obviously ignoring parts of it, they’ll think it doesn’t matter and will ignore it too. And that completely defeats its purpose.
As your company grows and develops, so will your mental health at work policy: in the face of new challenges, you might find you’ll need to introduce new initiatives or tweak existing ones. And that’s okay! Use employee surveys, discussion groups, and exit interviews to gather feedback on how your team is doing, and remember to keep promoting your policy and the initiatives it includes.
Who is responsible for your mental health in the workplace policy?
Essentially, everyone in your company is responsible for putting your workplace mental health policy into action. And while the initial development of a workplace mental health policy typically falls to the leader(s) or managers within a company, a successful policy relies on collaboration across the entire team.
👉 Senior leaders play a key role in creating change: they set the tone, promote positive behaviours and language, and ultimately ensure the right processes are both in place and regularly monitored. Its also worthwhile to ask your senior leaders to review other policies in your company: mental wellbeing should be at the heart of other policies relating to staff
wellbeing such as health and safety, working time, sickness absence, and return-to-work.
👉 HR or People teams often take the lead on developing and implementing policies that affect employee wellbeing: they carry out research, speak to experts, and make sure any plans align with the company’s goals, values, and legal requirements. If you’re a small company without an HR team, split the responsibilities between leaders and managers.
👉 Line managers should watch out for their report’s mental health: regular one-to-ones, quarterly reviews, and wider team meetings are all opportunities to find out how someone is doing. Equip your line managers with the right tools and knowledge to spot signs of poor mental health and offer the right support — they can be an important bridge between your workplace mental health policy and the everyday work in your company.
👉 Employees have a vested interest in company mental health and can provide valuable feedback on your mental health at work policy. All employees, no matter what level they’re at in your company, have a responsibility for accessing support when they need it and following any mental health initiatives in place at your company.
Thank you for caring about the mental wellbeing of your team
Truly, it means a lot. We realise there’s a lot of information here but the fact you’re researching how to write a workplace mental health policy is so heartening. Companies are making money from their employees’ brainpower and here at Spill, we believe that employees deserve to have their hardworking brains looked after. Best of luck writing your workplace mental health policy: you’re at the start of an exciting journey for your company!
Download our workplace mental health policy template
Spill Therapy reliably reduces mental health symptoms in 72% of cases and can be accessed by anyone on your team.