Doing the right thing or risking a lawsuit? Food for thought?

As a Mental Health Instructor for over 10 years, I am enthused to see the growth towards seeing and respecting mental health in in the same way we see and respect physical health.  Everyone is comfortable enquiring if a cold is better – not quite so comfortable asking how someone is feeling on their return to work after say depression.

 

The internet is full of well intentioned plans and events to raise the bar in talking about mental health and I see more employers supporting events like #MHAW2019 – Mental Health Awareness Week which starts 13 May.  Really great intentions.

 

But is there a risk of being sued under the Equalities Act 2010 and taken to Employment Tribunal?

 

Some of the employers I know allow all staff, regardless of screening to see if they are equipped to listen to someone else’s pain, to be a ‘listening ear’.

 

You don’t know what you are going to hear when you sit down to listen to someone struggling.  It can be an emotive area the listener has strong views on – such as self-harm.  Even if they can listen without judging – are they knowledgeable on how to signpost someone on? do they know how to take care of themselves after listening to someone’s pain?

 

I feel very strongly that we should be talking more openly in every day conversations about all human issues especially mental health.  But I feel just as strongly that we need to train those listeners how to listen, signpost and look after themselves.

 

Why not have a #MHAAT (Mental Health Aware And Trained) badge for trained employees to wear all year – not just one week.  Wouldn’t we make more of an impact and reduce the risk of a challenge under the Equalities Act at Employment Tribunal?

 

What do you think?

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