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The Importance of Mental Health:

  • Mental health can influence how we think and feel about ourselves and others as well as we interpret events.
  • It affects our capacity to learn, communicate and to form, sustain and end relationships, influencing our ability to cope with change, transition and life events
  • Good mental health is as important as good physical health to our life and wellbeing
  • Work plays an important part in our health (both physical and mental). People who are in work are, overall, healthier and happier. But sometimes work can have a negative impact on our health
  • At work we should aim to create an environment which fosters good mental health and eliminates or minimises a work environment which can have a negative impact on mental health.

Who’s most at risk?

Identification of who could be harmed or at risk of harm psychologically can be complex, with varying factors, including (but not limited to):

  • Age
  • Personality and psychosocial factors
  • Sleep
  • Medical condition of oneself or other(s) close to the individual
  • The activity – type, frequency and duration
  • Relationships (work and non-work)
  • Financial
  • Lifestyle

There is no single way to manage and reduce stress, what works for one person, may not work for another.

What are the negative outcomes for employees?

  • Poor health and associated conditions
  • Cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, diabetes, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, and associated health behaviours
  • Substance abuse, unhealthy eating
  • Reduction in job satisfaction, commitment, and productivity

What are negative outcomes for the organisation?

  • Includes increased costs due to absence from work
  • Turnover
  • Reduced turnover or service quality
  • Increased recruitment and retraining costs
  • Workplace investigations and litigation
  • Damage to the organisation’s reputation

If we get mental health right – what’s the upside?

  • Improved job satisfaction
  • Improved worker engagement
  • Increased productivity
  • Increased innovation
  • Organisational sustainability can be achieved

What is ISO 45003?

ISO 45003 has been published to provide guidance on the management of psychosocial risks and promoting well-being at work. Intended to be used together with ISO 45001 as part of an occupational health and safety (OH&S) management system, the guidelines are suitable for all sectors and types of organisations.

It defines Psychosocial risk as ‘combination of the likelihood of occurrence of exposure to work-related hazard(s) of a psychosocial nature and the severity of injury that can be caused by these hazard(s)’.

ISO 45003 is a guidance standard only. It is intended to complement the requirements in ISO 45001 and guide organisations on how to address OH&S issues relating to psychological health within their general OH&S management system.

What are the aims?

Therefore, it is critically important for the organisation to eliminate hazards and minimise OH&S risks by taking effective preventive and protective measures, which include measures to manage psychosocial risks. Psychosocial hazards are increasingly recognized as major challenges to health, safety, and well-being at work.

What are the psychosocial hazards?

  • Psychosocial hazards relate to how work is organized, social factors at work and aspects of the work environment, equipment, and hazardous tasks.
  • Psychosocial hazards can be present in all organisations and sectors, and from all kinds of work tasks, equipment, and employment arrangements.
  • Psychosocial risk relates to the potential of these types of hazards to cause several types of outcomes on individual health and safety, well-being and on organisational performance and sustainability.
  • It is important that psychosocial risks are managed in a manner consistent with other OH&S risks, through an OH&S management system.

What are the signs of exposure to Psychosocial risk?

  • Changes in behaviour
  • Social isolation or withdrawal, refusing offers of help or neglecting personal well-being needs
  • Increased absence from work or coming to work when ill
  • Lack of engagement
  • Reduced energy
  • High staff turnover
  • Low quality performance or failure to complete tasks/assignments on time (presenteeism)
  • Reduced desire to work with others
  • Conflicts, lack of willingness to co-operate, and bullying
  • Increased frequency of incidents or errors

What are the considerations in risk assessments?

At work, many situations (basic through to complex) are risk assessed, however, many assessments fail in relation to causes of psychological problems.

  • Is the work the issue, or is it perceived that the work is causing or making a situation worse?
  • The actual cause may be different or a combination of factors, inside and outside of work.
  • The HSE defines stress as ‘the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them’, and states:

Every employer has a legal duty to assess and protect employees from work-related stress under the Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999.

  • Stress is a major cause of sickness absence in the workplace and costs over £5 billion a year in Great Britain.

How does ISO 45003 support ISO 45001?

It is recognised that psychological health, safety and well-being are not always fully addressed within OH&S management. The standard is designed to help organisations better understand and address these aspects of OH&S management so that their system covers all aspects of health and safety, not just those that

Further Resource

Download a copy of our ISO 45003 Whitepaper here:

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In these times of uncertainty many organisations are facing concerns over business recovery, however there is another aspect which also needs addressing – managing mental health during these difficult times.

As part of Mental Health Awareness week, this weeks’ Podcast covers the management of psychological issues people are facing such as isolation,  worry and anxiety both now and over the coming year ahead.

These new and emerging psychological risks are not only societal issues but also workplace issues, as increasingly the pressures businesses are facing is also having an impact on employees mental health.

Employers have a fundamental legal imperative of managing the physical and psychological risks in the workplace.  They not only have a legal duty but also a moral duty to help employees get through these difficult times.

How can businesses adapt to the mental health issues we are facing?

  • Provide reassurance that as an employer you are doing as much as possible for the  safe return to work i.e. Risk Assessment, providing protective equipment.
  • Engage more closely with employees about their protection and welfare.
  • Proactively communicate on a regular basis, including clear communications on government guidance.
  • Review work demands and how this can be best managed from a mental health aspect i.e. Employee’s overworked/underworked.
  • Review health/psychological status for the safe return to work i.e. age, underlying health issues and mental health conditions.
  • Employers should be starting to plan the smooth transition from current to post pandemic/post lockdown.

However, we can’t just focus on the short term we need to aim to reduce fear and anxieties for the times ahead.  Businesses need to look to the future, and manage peoples expectation for the mid to long term i.e. 6 – 12/18 months’ time. 

Business leaders need to be realistic about a potential recession and start to plan for how work is likely to be delivered over the next 12 months.  It is likely that there will  be extra pressures to ‘make up’ productivity and output.  However, although we need to bolster the economy and return to increased productivity, we also need to accept that client expectations need to be managed proactively, and mental health issues managed carefully to ensure we have a resilient workforces for the future. 

Suffice to say,  it is likely to be a case of continuing to adapt over the coming 12 months, rather than attempt a full return to pre-pandemic standards.

Clare, ends on highlighting in the podcast that we should take this opportunity to embrace a ‘new normal’ as an opportunity to reflect on lessons learned, which could results in employees being more productive and less stressed post-pandemic.

You can contact Clare at or by calling 01296 310450

To find out more about Park Health and Safety, visit their website HERE.

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