Accessibility Page Navigation
Style sheets must be enabled to view this page as it was intended.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness
 Work and mental health

Creating a healthy work environment

Generally, work is good for health, but this is more likely to be the case in workplaces with certain characteristics.

 ACAS identifies these in  workplaces where:

  • Leaders help employees see where they fit into the bigger organisational picture
  • Effective line managers respect, develop and reward their staff
  • Consultation values the voice of employees and listens to their views and concerns
  • Relationships are based on trust and shared values

Workplaces where there is poor management, a bullying culture or unreasonably high work demands can be positively bad for health.  Added to this is the obstacle created by the stigma and discrimination that still surrounds mental health conditions. 

The first step in creating a workplace which supports employees’ mental health and wellbeing is to evaluate your workplace in terms of the training and skills of line managers, the access to appropriate health services and advice and the design of jobs and the work environment.  A number of organisations have developed tools to suit different workplaces.  Examples are given in the Links to resources box.


Links to resources:

Practical guides, toolkits and checklists

ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service)
Health, work and wellbeing, 2010
This booklet includes checklists to help you to evaluate how healthy the workplace is and to identify situations where action is needed.


Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

The mission of the HSE is to prevent death, injury and ill health in Great Britain’s workplaces.  HSE resources on mental health conditions are focussed on work related ‘stress’. 

A step by step approach to implementing the HSE management standards which represent a set of conditions that, if present, reflect a high level of health well-being and organisational performance.  This approach is supported with specific guidance and tools to see whether the organisation is ready to change and how to secure the commitment across the organisation needed to effect change. 

HSE has worked with CIPD and Investors in People to develop an online learning tool for line managers and a separate tool for Human Resource practitioners on preventing stress and promoting positive management behaviour. 


The Workplace Well-being Tool is a free resource designed to help you understand the specific health and well-being issues within your organisation.

The tool is divided into four sections:

  • what are my costs? - measure the cost of poor health and well-being
  • how do I compare? - compare your absenteeism and turnover rate against those of other organisations
  • how can I improve? - practical ideas to help you reduce health and well-being costs
  • what's the benefit? - estimate the costs and benefits of investing in well-being

If you're looking to implement a new workplace well-being project, the tool features powerful diagnostic tools to help you build an informed business case for action. The tool also provides tailored guidance and best-practice ideas to improve your existing procedures.


Managing emotional wellbeing: Building team resilience

These training materials were produced for line managers of small or large teams in a range of working environments.  The materials include guidance for managers who do not work in the same location as their team members.  



Is a mental health charity in England and Wales.  It has resources for employers accessed via the website link to Employers take care of your business

The ‘Taking Care of Business’ booklet includes practical tips on how to assess mental wellbeing in your workplace, how to plan improvements, how to tackle the causes of mental ill-health and support staff.


Case studies and best practice

Business in the community (BITC)

Healthy People = Healthy Profits, 2009

A growing number of UK employers have recognized employee health and wellbeing as a strategic priority, particularly during the challenging economic times.  This link is to a booklet and DVD containing examples of UK best practice by Business in the Community and the Government’s Health Work Wellbeing initiative.

Different strands of work and resources developed by BITC, including the healthy workplace model.


National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)

Promoting mental wellbeing through productive and healthy working conditions: guidance for employers, November 2009

This public health guidance was developed by NICE using rigorous methodology including reviewing the available academic evidence, economic analysis and engagement with various stakeholders.  The guidance includes recommendations for action in the form of ‘who should take action’ and ‘what should they do’.