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Promoting mental wellbeing at work

About

What is covered

This pathway covers recommendations on how to improve people's mental wellbeing at work.
Work in itself is an important determinant of self-esteem and identity. It can provide a sense of fulfilment and opportunities for social interaction. For most people, work provides their main source of income.
Improving people's mental wellbeing at work can yield economic benefits for the business or organisation, in terms of increased commitment and job satisfaction, staff retention, improved productivity and performance, and reduced staff absenteeismFor example, Health and Safety Executive (2008) Management standards for work-related stress and Pricewaterhouse Coopers (2008) Building the case for wellness..
Work can also have a negative effect on mental health by causing undue stress. This can occur because of:
  • An environment that puts high demands on a person without giving them sufficient control and support to manage those demands.
  • A perceived imbalance between the effort required and the rewards of the job.
  • A sense of injustice and unfairness arising from management processes or personal relationships.
  • Physical factors such as material hazards, noise, dust and dirt.
Stress is not a medical condition, but research shows that prolonged stress is linked to psychological conditions such as anxiety and depression, as well as physical conditions such as heart disease, back pain and headache.
The recommendations are for all employers, irrespective of the size of the business or organisation. They may also be of interest to human resources or occupational health staff, employees and trade unions representatives.

Updates

Updates to this pathway

23 June 2015 Link to NICE pathway on workplace health: policy and management practices added.

Productivity and performance

The costs associated with employees' mental health problems are significant for businesses and other organisations. This can result in a loss of productivity because of sickness absence, early retirement and increased staff turnover, recruitment and training.
Evidence also shows that productivity can be reduced through the lower level of performance of employees who are at work but experiencing stress or mental health problems. This is known as 'presenteeism'.
It has been estimated that impaired work efficiency associated with mental health problems costs £15.1 billion a year, which is almost twice the estimated annual cost of absenteeism 
(£8.4 billion)Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health (2007) Mental health at work: developing the business case. Policy paper 8. London: Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health..

National strategies and initiatives

This pathway supports the following related national strategies, guidance and legal requirements including employers' duty of care:
In addition, the Health and Safety Executive's Management standards for work-related stress may prove a valuable tool when implementing this guidance.

Professional responsibilities

The recommendations in this pathway represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals are expected to take these recommendations fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or service users. Applying the recommendations in this pathway is at the discretion of health and care professionals and their individual patients or service users and does not override the responsibility of health and care professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual, in consultation with them and/or their carer or guardian.
Commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to enable the recommendations to be applied (and to provide funding required for technology appraisal guidance) when individual health and care professionals and their patients or service users wish to use them. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this pathway should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.

Person-centred care

People have the right to be involved in discussions and make informed decisions about their care, as described in your care.
Making decisions using NICE guidelines explains how we use words to show the strength (or certainty) of our recommendations, and has information about prescribing medicines (including off label use), professional guidelines, standards and laws (including on consent and mental capacity), and safeguarding.

Short Text

Everything NICE has said on promoting mental wellbeing at work through productive and healthy working conditions in an interactive flowchart

What is covered

This pathway covers recommendations on how to improve people's mental wellbeing at work.
Work in itself is an important determinant of self-esteem and identity. It can provide a sense of fulfilment and opportunities for social interaction. For most people, work provides their main source of income.
Improving people's mental wellbeing at work can yield economic benefits for the business or organisation, in terms of increased commitment and job satisfaction, staff retention, improved productivity and performance, and reduced staff absenteeismFor example, Health and Safety Executive (2008) Management standards for work-related stress and Pricewaterhouse Coopers (2008) Building the case for wellness..
Work can also have a negative effect on mental health by causing undue stress. This can occur because of:
  • An environment that puts high demands on a person without giving them sufficient control and support to manage those demands.
  • A perceived imbalance between the effort required and the rewards of the job.
  • A sense of injustice and unfairness arising from management processes or personal relationships.
  • Physical factors such as material hazards, noise, dust and dirt.
Stress is not a medical condition, but research shows that prolonged stress is linked to psychological conditions such as anxiety and depression, as well as physical conditions such as heart disease, back pain and headache.
The recommendations are for all employers, irrespective of the size of the business or organisation. They may also be of interest to human resources or occupational health staff, employees and trade unions representatives.

Updates

Updates to this pathway

23 June 2015 Link to NICE pathway on workplace health: policy and management practices added.

Sources

NICE guidance and other sources used to create this pathway.
Mental wellbeing at work (2009) NICE guideline PH22

Quality standards

Quality statements

Effective interventions library

Effective interventions library

Successful effective interventions library details

Implementation

NICE has produced resources to help implement its guidance on:

Pathway information

Productivity and performance

The costs associated with employees' mental health problems are significant for businesses and other organisations. This can result in a loss of productivity because of sickness absence, early retirement and increased staff turnover, recruitment and training.
Evidence also shows that productivity can be reduced through the lower level of performance of employees who are at work but experiencing stress or mental health problems. This is known as 'presenteeism'.
It has been estimated that impaired work efficiency associated with mental health problems costs £15.1 billion a year, which is almost twice the estimated annual cost of absenteeism 
(£8.4 billion)Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health (2007) Mental health at work: developing the business case. Policy paper 8. London: Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health..

National strategies and initiatives

This pathway supports the following related national strategies, guidance and legal requirements including employers' duty of care:
In addition, the Health and Safety Executive's Management standards for work-related stress may prove a valuable tool when implementing this guidance.

Professional responsibilities

The recommendations in this pathway represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals are expected to take these recommendations fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or service users. Applying the recommendations in this pathway is at the discretion of health and care professionals and their individual patients or service users and does not override the responsibility of health and care professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual, in consultation with them and/or their carer or guardian.
Commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to enable the recommendations to be applied (and to provide funding required for technology appraisal guidance) when individual health and care professionals and their patients or service users wish to use them. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this pathway should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.

Person-centred care

People have the right to be involved in discussions and make informed decisions about their care, as described in your care.
Making decisions using NICE guidelines explains how we use words to show the strength (or certainty) of our recommendations, and has information about prescribing medicines (including off label use), professional guidelines, standards and laws (including on consent and mental capacity), and safeguarding.

Supporting information

The following definition of mental wellbeing is used in this pathway:
Mental wellbeing is a dynamic state in which the individual is able to develop their potential, work productively and creatively, build strong and positive relationships with others and contribute to their community. It is enhanced when an individual is able to fulfil their personal and social goals and achieve a sense of purpose in societyForesight Mental Capital and Wellbeing Project (2008) Final project report. London: The Government Office for Science.
Mental wellbeing at work is determined by the interaction between the working environment, the nature of the work and the individual.

Glossary

a micro business employs fewer than 10 people. A small business employs fewer than 50 people and a medium-sized business employs fewer than 250 people
a micro business employs fewer than 10 people. A small business employs fewer than 50 people and a medium-sized business employs fewer than 250 people

Paths in this pathway

Pathway created: September 2012 Last updated: December 2016

© NICE 2016

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