Mental Health and Employers: Stevenson and Farmer Review published

In January 2017, the Prime Minister called for an independent review to be undertaken into how employers can better support the mental health of all people currently in employment.

The Stevenson and Farmer Review has now been published, and reveals that the UK is facing a mental health challenge at work, not only is in terms of the human cost of poor mental health at work, but also in relation to broader effects for society.

Statistics show that there is a large annual cost to employers of between £33 billion and £42 billion from sickness, staff turnover and poor performance in work which are all related to mental health.

There are currently 1.5 million individuals in the UK with a diagnosed long-term mental health condition in work. The Review aims to help as many people with mental health conditions to remain in work, or return to work.

The Review highlights good practice, and sets out a number of mental health core standards that can be adopted across all workplaces at little or no cost.

With a 10 year plan, the Review aims to;

  • change the way that mental health is perceived and understood;
  • ensure that employers can assist employees with a mental health condition; and
  • reduce the proportion of people with a long-term mental health condition who leave employment.

Mental Health Core Standards

The Review recommends that all organisations should implement the following core standards to reduce the impact of mental health in the workplace:

  1. Produce, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan that promotes good mental health of all employees, and outlines the support available for those who may need it;
  2. Develop mental health awareness among employees by making information, tools and support accessible;
  3. Encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling;
  4. During the recruitment process and at regular intervals throughout employment, offer appropriate workplace adjustments to employees who require them;
  5. Provide employees with good working conditions, and ensure they have a healthy work-life balance and opportunities for development;
  6. Promote effective management to ensure that all employees have a regular conversation about their health and well-being with their line manager, supervisor or organisational leader, and train and support line managers and supervisors in effective management practices; and
  7. Routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing by understanding available data, talking to employees and understanding risk factors.

Mental Health Enhanced Standards

In addition, the Review recommends that all public sector employers, and all private sector companies with more than 500 employees, should also implement the mental health enhanced standards:

  1. Increase transparency and accountability through internal and external reporting, to include leadership commitment and outline of the organisation's approach to mental health;
  2. Demonstrate accountability by nomination a health and wellbeing lead at Board or Senior Leadership level, with clear reporting duties and responsibilities;
  3. Improve the disclosure process to encourage openness during recruitment and throughout, ensuring employees are aware of why the information is needed, and make sure the right support is in place to facilitate a good employer response following disclosure;
  4. Ensure provision of tailored in-house mental health support and signposting to clinical help, including digital support, employer-purchase Occupational Health / Employee Assistance Programmes, NHS services or other sources of support.

External support for employers

The Review is calling on industry groups, trade unions and professional Mates in Mindbodies to help implement the mental health core and enhanced standards.

Many employees are members of trade unions, the review welcomes engagement from trade unions and professional bodies to support the implantation and asks that the trade unions support their members.

The review asks professional bodies with responsibility for training or accrediting professional qualifications to include workplace mental health in training programmes and assessments. An example of this in practice is Mates in Mind, an initiative set up in 2016 which supports the construction industry. It is supported by the British Safety Council and Health in Construction Leadership Group and delivers tailored training programmes which encourages workers to be aware of their own and their colleagues' mental health. It is excepted to reach 100,000 workers in its first year.

In addition, the Government has a vital role to play. The review asks the Government to create an online information platform to assist employers.


Mental health should be a priority for organisations across the UK. Organisations should adopt these mental health standards and have them fully implemented within the next 2 - 3 years.

To read the full Stevenson and Farmer review click here.

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