When you become aware that someone in your organisation has a mental health difficulty, it is important that you provide support. Creating a culture where people feel confident that they can have compassionate, supportive conversations is key to this.
There will be times, however, where you will need to be more structured in your approach. This will help to ensure that your organisation is fulfilling its role and its legal duties.
As well as a desire to support wellbeing, you also have responsibility to ensure that people are attending work or training, that the required work is completed to an acceptable standard and that people are working safely.
You also have responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010 to ensure that people who are experiencing mental health difficulties are not discriminated against at work. The core responsibilities associated with this are:
Whether the Equality Act applies or not, it is still good practice for employers to make reasonable adjustments to support staff who need it.
If an apprentice is experiencing difficulties with their mental health, it can be very helpful to create a detailed plan about what they need from you, and what you are reasonably able to provide in support. A Wellness Action Plan (WAP) helps to set out clearly how any difficulties with mental health are affecting work and what the person and you as their employer and/or training provider can do to help with this. This both provides support and helps to be clear in writing that you are doing everything possible to support the person under your duties arising from the Equality Act. A WAP should cover areas including:
You can download a manager’s guide and template for creating a Wellness Actions Plan from the MIND website:
Download Wellness Actions Plan from MIND website
Providing support doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated. We asked some apprentices about how their employer has supported them at work; here are a few of the things they found useful:
In partnership with mental health charity Penumbra we have compiled four comprehensive guides to accompany this web resource. These two guides, for employers, will help you to support your apprentices' mental health at work. The two guides for apprentices can be found in our Mental Health resource for apprentices.
View PDF guide Mental Wellbeing - Support for Apprentices
View PDF guide Supporting Apprentices around Suicide and Self-Harm
All employees have the right to be treated fairly at work. The Fair Work Convention supports employers in Scotland to ensure every employee has a voice, opportunity, security, fulfilment and respect.
Find out more about Fair Work and how it supports employers
We are grateful to mental health charity Penumbra for providing advice and information on mental health for this resource. If any of your apprentices or other employees need support, you should encourage them to contact a GP or professional mental-health support organisation.