The Students’ Union recognises that mental health is as important as physical health, and that effective mental health support involves not only attending to the needs of those who experience mental health difficulties or distress, but protecting and promoting the general mental well-being of everyone within the organisation. Mental well-being helps to protect the body from the impact of life’s stresses and traumatic events, and is associated with better physical health, positive interpersonal relationships and socially healthier societies. It helps people to achieve their potential, cope with adversity, work productively and contribute to their community and society.
Research suggests that in the UK mental health difficulties will affect around one in four people in any given year. For some people, an episode of mental ill-health is a one-off – triggered by events or periods of harmful stress levels. Equally, there may be no cause at all. For others, mental health problems can be longer term, or episodic over a lifetime. Whilst awareness of mental health is increasing, we still face a world where people with mental health problems frequently face discrimination and challenges getting the help they need. Many people who experience distress try to keep their feelings hidden because they are afraid of other people’s responses. We are committed to creating a work environment that positively promotes mental health and well-being, making it easier for people to speak about mental health and stress concerns without fear, and to reach out for help when they need it.
This policy applies to all officers, staff and volunteers within the Students’ Union and its purpose is to:
support the creation of an environment that positively promotes mental health and well-being through its policies and procedures, recruitment and selection, support and training, communication, culture and workplace environment;
adopt an appropriate, consistent and supportive approach to any individual experiencing mental health difficulties and consider reasonable adjustments to their work circumstances to allow them to achieve their fullest potential;
prevent and reduce harmful stress and ensure that officers, staff and volunteers who do experience this kind of stress are helped, whatever the causes.
While overall responsibility for implementation of this policy lies with the Head of Central Services, it is the responsibility of every line manager to implement the policy and ensure staff and volunteers in their area are aware of, and comply with this policy.
If you have any questions about the content or application of this policy, you should contact the Head of Central Services to request training or further information.
In addition to the principles and values that we uphold in order to create a supportive and non-stigmatising environment, the Students’ Union strives to be proactive in supporting all officers, staff and volunteers through the provision of support services and through inclusive practices and procedures.
This includes, but is not limited to, policies and procedures, recruitment and selection, support and training, communication, culture and workplace environment.
The Students’ Union will:
not tolerate discrimination, bullying or harassment of anyone who experiences a mental health problem, and will provide support for any staff, officers or volunteers who are affected by this;
promote mental health and well-being within all relevant aspects of its operation;
ensure recruitment and selection procedures provide equality of opportunity regardless of disability, including mental health difficulties;
take steps and put processes in place to monitor workload, address issues and set realistic deadlines and targets for staff;
provide regular opportunities for learning, development and progression;
ensure all officers, staff and volunteers receive a comprehensive local induction to fully prepare individuals for their role;
ensure regular review of roles that have been identified as having a high risk of stress, seeing what can be done to reduce the risk of stress to people within them;
recognise that the nature of the work we do can sometimes be distressing (e.g. staff having contact with vulnerable groups and disclosures of harassment/violence), and will offer both appropriate training for these issues and support for staff if they have had to deal with these;
ensure officers and staff are offered regular 1-2-1s and annual appraisals that provide opportunities for feedback and feed in, with volunteers having a staff contact for feedback and feed in opportunities when required;
offer all line managers access to support services and information and/or training to help them understand how to signpost to appropriate support services;
implement suitable support and adjustments to work circumstances in order to allow any officers, staff and volunteers with mental health difficulties to achieve their fullest potential;
have flexible working options, including the option for officers, staff and volunteers to request that they amend their work hours or work from home to support their mental well-being;
raise awareness of mental well-being among officers, staff and volunteers through open and positive discussion, and the promotion of ‘self-care’;
respect the confidentiality of information relating to any mental health difficulty.
All officers, staff and volunteers are expected to:
maintain a non-stigmatising community;
treat any officer, staff member or volunteer with a mental health difficulty as an individual, not a problem or a condition;
take advantage of appropriate support, training and information sources;
uphold confidentiality (wherever safety is not at risk, and in line with other relevant policies and procedures);
undertake ‘self-care’, this could include taking regular breaks or not working excessive hours;
recognise the limits to what they can do;
communicate with their line manager, staff support, or HR.
In addition, line managers are expected to:
ensure staff, officers and volunteers they manage are aware of their responsibilities (as outlined above);
provide staff, officers and volunteers that they manage with appropriate information, advice, support and any necessary training during periods of organisational change and/or in the context of changes to their role;
undertake a stress management risk assessment with any staff they manage who are exhibiting signs of stress, and take any action identified.
Officers, staff and volunteers are strongly encouraged to inform their line manager or staff contact of any mental health difficulties so that appropriate support can be offered and any adjustments put in place. If you raise a concern regarding stress or any adjustments needed to support your mental health but are unhappy with how it has been dealt with by your line manager or staff contact, you have the option of discussing this with HR.
The HR team are responsible for reviewing this Policy and monitoring how effectively it meets its aims.
Indicators to measure effectiveness include:
working hours and patterns;
staff sickness levels;
use of occupational health or counselling services;
annual staff survey responses;
volunteer experience survey results
The Policy has a suggested review date of every three years, however, changes identified as a result of regularly monitoring its effectiveness may be added whenever necessary.