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Iris Edmonds

Iris Edmonds

Marketing Apprentice

22 April 2024

Mental Health: Is it a part of Health and Safety?

Recently, there has been a surge in discussion around the responsibility of Mental Health in the workplace and whether it falls onto the Health and Safety team.

Recently, there has been a surge in discussion around the responsibility of Mental Health in the workplace and whether it falls onto the Health and Safety team. 89% of workers with mental health problems report an impact on their working life so this needs to be addressed in all workplaces.

The all-important question is who’s responsibility is employee mental health – Human Resources or Health and Safety?

To better understand this important and sensitive topic we reached out to our network and explored the thoughts of Health and Safety professionals'. 

Let’s jump in…

Current responsibility

In recent years, conversations surrounding mental health in the workplace have rightfully gained significant traction. As we monitor the importance of mental well-being in the workplace, it is vital to understand the perspective of those working in Health and Safety as some professionals might be in a stand-alone team. With an already long list of responsibilities, employee mental and emotional well-being might not be able to be covered alongside all of their other duties.


‘The essence of truly supporting employees' mental well-being lies in the creation and implementation of robust policies and procedures.’


Through reaching out to our network we realised there is a very varied opinion on who should be in charge of mental health, whether it is MHFA (Mental Health First Aiders),HR or Health and Safety. Nikki Darling – Freelance Safety professional pinpointed that it's not always about who is in charge, but it is about the company's outlook and procedures in place to support those within the organisation.

A common ground across all of our conversations is that mental health should always be monitored with care and part of a company’s ethos, not just treated as a tick-box exercise.

Why it matters

Despite a third of managers feeling out of their depth supporting their team with mental health concerns, it has been raised that senior management should hold a large responsibility when it comes to mental health.


 ‘It SHOULD be a collective approach by senior leadership collaborating on a strategic approach to this subject matter’.


Says Siobhan Grimsley – SHE Consultant. There is some responsibility held by senior leadership as they are the drivers of change and advocate from the top down. However, seeing as the Health and Safety department monitors the risk of employees, surely mental health is considered a risk too?


‘I don't believe stress or wellbeing should be labelled as HR or HS, but the whole of business’ topic that requires the buy-in, support, and efforts of everyone to achieve.’ 

Martin Coyle – Head of HSEQ at Harbro Ltd raised the point that everyone should be involved in employee mental health and that it's not any particular individual's role. Understandably, individuals might seek help from their colleagues or their line manager when it comes to their mental and emotional state. Further reinforcing a collective approach rather than a single team or department spearheading a strategy.

What can we do about it?

Despite just 13% of employees feeling comfortable talking about mental illness at work, it is important that employees feel heard when voicing their emotions in the workplace; it not only promotes healthy work relationships between colleagues but allows managers to build better relationships by supporting their team. 

Through asking our network and receiving a wide range of opinions when it comes to the responsibility of employee mental well-being, there is one common denominator, it comes down to the support system in place involving a business and colleagues.

We found that such a current and hard-hitting topic brought up discussions of personal experiences and where people have seen success in navigating the complexities of mental well-being. It was also positive to see people training to be able to assist their workplace as the designated mental health professionals. This brought to light that everyone is aware of the importance and that placing the responsibility on the HS or HR team isn’t sufficient.

Shared responsibility and acknowledgement of employee's struggles is essential in any business, but the team or department who “own” the strategy or leads the initiative is still widely up for debate. 

Thank you to all participants of our research and although we couldn’t include everyone’s thoughts and insights, it was positive to see a collective passion for this important topic. 


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