New NICE public health guidance aims to improve mental wellbeing within the workplaceDate: 01 January 2010
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has recently (5 November) issued guidance for employers on promoting mental wellbeing at work through productive and healthy working conditions. The guidance aims to help reduce the estimated 13.7 million working days lost each year due to work-related mental health conditions including stress, depression and anxiety which are currently estimated to cost UK employers around £28.3 billion per year at current pay levels.
The NICE guidance highlights how employers and employees can work in partnership to improve mental wellbeing within the workplace, by taking a positive organisation-wide approach that promotes mental wellbeing through changes in ways of working, such as improved line management and the provision of flexible working where appropriate. These recommendations will not only benefit employees but will also help employers to reduce sickness absence and staff turnover leading to increased productivity and performance.
The IOM was closely involved in this work, providing the initial systematic evidence-based review of the literature on workplace interventions. Dr Richard Graveling, the lead author of the IOM review, was then co-opted as an expert advisor to assist NICE in the development of the final guidance.
Speaking about this development, Dr Graveling said: “This represents a useful contribution to this important area of work-related ill-health. As well as the costs outlined above, stress can reduce the effectiveness of those at work and there is growing evidence that psychosocial problems also contribute to physical conditions such as musculoskeletal disorders.”
The involvement of the IOM in this development reflects our skills and experience in the area of mental wellbeing at work (stress) and in carrying out systematic reviews. Previous activities have included in-depth surveys of employers attitudes and activities in relation to stress at work (on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)) and the development of a stress risk assessment procedure (on behalf of the Health Education Board for Scotland (HEBS)) which was then used as a gold Standard to validate the ‘Work Positive' package prepared by HEBS in conjunction with the Irish Health and Safety Authority (HSA).
The IOM is also currently involved in a project funded by the European Commission and supported by ETNO and UNI to identify good practice in managing mental wellbeing at work in the telecommunications industry across the EU.
The NICE guidance “Promoting mental wellbeing through productive and healthy working conditions: guidance for employers” is available at: http://www.nice.org.uk/PH22
A summary of our findings can be found here and the full IOM review is available through NICE at: