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Time for Bosses to Open Up on Mental Health

10 June 2013

Time for Bosses to Open Up on Mental Health


From the end of April, employers will no longer be able to, legally, remove company directors who have mental health problems.

The success of the Mental Health Discrimination Bill is part of an important shift in attitudes towards mental illness in the UK: that people who've had mental health problems shouldn't be barred from taking on responsibilities (as MPs and on juries, as well as leading private and public sector organisations). The Bill has been an important step forward in getting the issue of mental health onto the workplace table. Unfortunately, there will always be levels of prejudice and discrimination against people with mental health problems, mostly unseen and untraceable. However, introducing legislation at least addresses the legally anomaly of mental health discrimination, and starts a dialogue about mental health and work. This dialogue raises questions for all of us about the impact of mental health problems at work, how they can be addressed and how employees can be supported in order to maintain their relationships and performance at work.

For HR professionals, the legislation may seem a technical formality. However, one area of focus is the issue of the mental health of senior managers and directors; and how do organisations look after their senior staff. Essentially, at present, the looking-after is done through financial rewards, healthcare, and maybe an annual medical.

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