EAPs are the answer to the current mental health crisis

Written by Liz Guilford on . Posted in News

EAPs are the answer to the current mental health crisis

The employee assistance industry in the UK wholly recognises that there is pressure on day-to-day core services being delivered by NHS mental health trusts, as outlined in The Guardian recently. And with nine out of ten mental health trusts admitting that they are not managing demand or planning for currently unmet need, it isn’t long until the crisis within our mental health services becomes critical.

A solution to this impending mental health crisis is to support individuals who have access to an employee assistance programme (EAP) via their employer to access this service and make use of its expertise if they’re struggling with a mental health issue. UK EAPA estimates that more than half the working population currently have access to an EAP but that significantly fewer are taking advantage of the accessible, professional, independent and confidential mental health support that is available, 24-hours a day, 365 days a year.

EAPs have played a significant role in supporting the health of the nation since they were introduced to the UK in the late 1980s. Since this time they have demonstrated their effectiveness to employers when it comes to supporting and promoting employee health and wellbeing and reducing levels of psychological distress in the workplace.  Now more than ever the industry recognises the need to increase awareness of EAPs and the vital role they can play in alleviating some of the pressure on NHS mental health services.

Research undertaken by the UK EAPA in partnership with CORE IMS (2012) reviewed the outcomes of more than 28,000 EAP counselling interventions and showed that EAPs were effective in providing expedited treatment for individuals in mental distress; on average the time from initial contact to first appointment was just nine days) in 92% of cases. The vast majority (88%) of clients presenting to EAPs also scored above the clinical cut-off level, indicating their needs are similar to those presenting to NHS outpatient mental health services.

EAPs are one of the quickest ways for people who are struggling with a wide range of issues to access counselling and related support services. The industry has established stringent standards of professional practice and delivery and is getting people back to work quickly, minimising their psychological distress.

When there is such a demand on NHS mental health services, our role in supporting employees to identify and resolve personal problems that are affecting their mental health and may be impacting (or have the potential to) impact on job performance and the wider workplace is more important than ever. We are committed to working with the NHS, government and the mental health community to see that EAPs are playing their role in this crisis and that ultimately, the needs of the individuals affected by mental health, are met quickly, professionally and for the long term.

Is EAP work right for you?

Written by Liz Guilford on . Posted in News

Is EAP work right for you?

EAP counsellors and psychotherapists are seeing more complex and high risk cases, says Amanda Smith, UK EAPA’s secretary and author of the last ‘EAP Matters’ column in the BACP’s ‘Counselling at Work’ journal.

In the article, Amanda discusses the skillset and experience required of affiliate counsellors when it comes to working with clients who present with a wide range of issues that are, in the case of EAP work, interwoven with organisational complexities that can additionally impact on their issues.

“Affiliates benefit from a multidisciplinary therapeutic approach and EAPs are often looking for therapists with experience of CBT and solution-focused approaches, as well as training in time-limited counselling… affiliates will also benefit from having a working knowledge of general mental health diagnosis, types of psychiatric medications and what this may tell us about a client’s current presentation and previous history to support the current issues that are facing.

“It helps to know your locality and the support services that are available so you can signpost your clients for advice and information for themselves, or for family members, whose mental health may be a contributory factor.”

For more information about ‘Counselling at Work’ and to find out how to subscribe, go to http://bacpworkplace.org.uk/journal.

What’s the point of EAPs?

Written by Liz Guilford on . Posted in News

What’s the point of EAPs?

A recent article in People Management discusses the role of EAPs within organsiations and the extent to which organisations truly understand and appreciate the value that EAPs can generate. It’s an important debate, says UK EAPA Chair, Neil Mountford, and reminds us again of the importance of measuring and evaluating the impact of programmes.

“The more effort an organisation puts into promoting the programme and driving engagement and utilisation, the better its data will be, and the more insight it will gain into the organisation… At a time when organisations have never had a higher interest in the physical and mental wellbeing of their employees, they should be looking at the EAP and broadening their own perceptions of what it can do and how it can fit in with a wider wellbeing strategy,” he said.

You can read the full article here.

16% of employers don’t offer mental wellbeing education or support

Written by Liz Guilford on . Posted in News

16% of employers don’t offer mental wellbeing education or support

Research by Employee Benefits and Staffcare reveals that 16% of employers do not offer any form of mental wellbeing education or support for employees. The research, which surveyed nearly 300 employers earlier this year, also showed that 20% of employers do not provide any such support around physical wellbeing.

According to Neil Mountford, chair of the UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association, the turbulent world we’re living in is a call to action for this 16% of employers to make an investment in their workforce’s mental health and wellbeing.

“Issues such as sickness absence and declining productivity as a result of mental health issues mean that organisations need to make the most of tried and trusted systems, such as EAPs and occupational health services, that can minimise the impact of the unpredictable situations and incidents that can happen both in and outside of the workplace.

“EAPs have been repeatedly proven to help people identify and cope with the personal or work-related issues that are at the root of their mental health distress and as such can help to reduce sickness absence, improve mental wellbeing and ultimately contribute to the bottom line in terms of organisational productivity.”

Want to find out more about the Employee Benefits / Staffcare Benefits Research 2017? Just go to https://www.employeebenefits.co.uk/issues/benefits-research-2017/employee-benefitsstaffcare-benefits-research-2017/.

NEW PUBLICATION! Mental health in the workplace: advice for managers

Written by Liz Guilford on . Posted in News

NEW PUBLICATION! Mental health in the workplace: advice for managers

A new factsheet from the UK EAPA provides practical strategies for managers to support employees and constructively manage situations where mental health is contributing factor.

“Line managers are faced with numerous responsibilities relating to the guidance, support, development, discipline and performance of employees, and also hold shared responsibility for ensuring the employer’s duty of care for the welfare of their staff is delivered.

“Increasing recognition of the prevalence of mental health issues and workplace stress requires line managers to have greater awareness of sustainable strategies that address these issues and meet the requirements of both employees and the wider businesses,” said Caroline Ribeiro-Nelson, author of the factsheet, who is an experienced Psychotherapist, Consultant and Trainer and is an individual member of the UK EAPA.

You can download your own copy of the Factsheet here.

Addressing financial and mental health concerns cuts absenteeism and improves focus at the workplace

Written by Liz Guilford on . Posted in News

Addressing financial and mental health concerns cuts absenteeism and improves focus at the workplace

The recently published Metlife ‘Employee Benefits Trends Study’ highlights that although embedding and uptake of wellness programmes has improved in recent months, there is a striking need to give mental health the same level of attention.

The study shows that while physical wellbeing programmes are now much better embedded within wellbeing strategies, a tremendous shift is needed within organisations as mental health becomes the fastest growing concern amongst employees. It also reinforces that the key factor that unites physical, mental and financial wellbeing is stress, highlighting the importance for employers to have a broad wellbeing offering that can tackle the various causes of stress among employees and within the workplace.

You can read more on this study and its findings relating to mental health at https://www.metlife.co.uk/EBTS2017/.

EAPs are leading the charges when it comes to supporting workplace wellbeing

Written by Liz Guilford on . Posted in News

EAPs are leading the charges when it comes to supporting workplace wellbeing

According to new research from REBA, the Reward and Employee Benefits Association, employers are rolling out wellbeing strategies for their workplaces at a rate never seen before, with some adopting a highly sophisticated approach that includes strategic links to business culture and board reporting, whilst others are pulling together a collection of wellbeing initiatives.

Despite this, over half of respondents (54.8%) do not have a wellbeing strategy in place, although of this group nearly all organisations plan or wish to implement one; 45.7% plan to introduce a strategy in 2017 and 23.8% plan to introduce a wellbeing strategy in the next few years.

The study also confirms that physical and mental health dominate the wellbeing agenda among those surveyed by REBA, with an employee assistance programme being the top wellbeing initiative on offer (88.5%), closely followed by discounted or free gym memberships (77.6%) and health screenings (62.9%).

“EAPs are an effective response to the challenge of managing mental health in the workplace and have been proven to help people cope with the personal or work-related issues that are causing distress. Recent research conducted by The Work Foundation (2016) on behalf of the UK EAPA confirms the importance of EAPs in delivering a personal and professional source of support for employees that, crucially, is independent from the employer and can be relied on to be confidential. Yet an ongoing challenge for organisations offering an EAP continues to be that of increasing employees’ awareness and understanding of the services and type of support available through the programme.

“HR managers surveyed by The Work Foundation reported there is an ongoing stigma associated with the EAP, with employees perceiving it as a counselling service that’s primarily for people with mental health issues, a finding which clearly limits the use of wider EAP services such as debt management, and support for issues relating eldercare and childcare,” commented Andrew Kinder, Immediate Past Chair of the UK EAPA, who is a contributor to the REBA research report.

You can read more about the REBA employee wellbeing research at http://reba.global/files/document/96/1487613242_REBAEmployeeWellbeingResearch2017ESV_web.pdf and find out more about the development of wellbeing in the workplace.

How EAPs can help employees to manage the impact of trauma

Written by Liz Guilford on . Posted in News

How EAPs can help employees to manage the impact of trauma

In the wake of last week’s terrorist attack at Manchester Arena and the subsequent heightened threat to the UK from international terrorism, individuals are naturally struggling to come to terms with the news of this event and the impact it has had on so many innocent lives. Many of these individuals will be employees who, regardless of the shock and trauma they may have suffered from witnessing, hearing about or being connected to the events in Manchester, will have continued to go to work and manage their emotions and mental wellbeing as best they can.

Here, Neil Mountford, chair of the UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association, discusses the impact of trauma on individuals and how services such as Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) can help individuals to manage in such testing times.

Those involved, directly or indirectly, in incidents such as the attacks in Manchester, may be profoundly affected by their experience and for their employers, it can be difficult to know how to respond. Yet providing support in the wake of incidents such as this can help an individual to make a fuller and faster recovery, whilst failing to do so can lead to prolonged absence or presenteeism which can impact on productivity, engagement and morale across the business.

In most cases people will experience immediate trauma in a similar way: initial shock and possible sleeplessness, with low mood, tearfulness and flashbacks for the first two to four weeks. This is quite normal, and an essential part of the psychological healing process. During this stage, support should primarily be practical, ensuring an employee is safe, physically well and has friends and family around. In most cases, after 28 days an employee will be feeling significantly better, and their functionality and mood should have mostly returned to normal.

Often, people affected by trauma may not be forthcoming about what they are going through, but there are indicators that further assistance may be required. Physical appearance and behaviour talk volumes about a person’s state of mind, and ongoing indicators of stress or depression in the wake of trauma may indicate that further action is necessary.

Signs of stress include irritability or short temper, changes in appearance (for example, wearing worn or creased clothes, reduced attention to shaving or make up), altered habits, poor timekeeping, uncharacteristic talkativity or withdrawal. If these indicators continue for longer than four weeks, it suggests that the person may need further help in dealing with their situation.

If you believe somebody is experiencing trauma, there are different ways to get support.

More than 14 million working people in the UK are estimated to have access to some form of EAP, giving individuals the opportunity to talk with a professional adviser, therapist or counsellor in a secure, confidential and non-work environment.

For employees who are affected by a traumatic event, the around-the-clock most telephone helpline or online EAP resources can enable them to get some reassurance about the way they’re feeling and access short-term counselling to help them work through their experience. Often, EAPs can also facilitate for specially trained trauma counsellors to come into the workplace at short notice and in person, depending on the services available for a specific EAP provider and the needs of the affected employees.

As well as providing support for employees, EAPs are also particularly useful for line managers who can benefit from consultancy and support, giving them the opportunity to access coaching on, for example, how to recognise the symptoms of trauma and how to approach an employee they think may be affected by a traumatic event, as well as delivering day-to-day support to give line managers the confidence to offer effective support to their employees, as well as helping them to understand what is appropriate support for an employee in crisis or distress.

Importantly, an EAP can also advise the line manager on how to make a referral to the EAP to enable an employee to access the most relevant services and support available.

If you don’t have an EAP, there are other ways to offer support. Psychological assessments from occupational health providers help to establish clearly what an employee needs, and can assist in finding support via the NHS or specialist charities. Mental health charity Mind also, for example, offers wide-ranging and specialist support, including for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Guidance and advice on where to seek urgent assistance and information, as well as support services for victims, witnesses, family members and those directly affected by the Manchester attack can also be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/manchester-attack-may-2017-support-for-people-affected.

Research calls for greater line manager awareness of mental health issues

Written by Liz Guilford on . Posted in News

Research calls for greater line manager awareness of mental health issues

Research recently published by Unum in partnership with the Mental Health Foundation reveals that just one-third (34%) of workers who experienced mental health problems in the last five years felt well supported by their line managers. It reports that line managers routinely underestimate how well their workplace supports staff mental health and wellbeing.

Nearly half (45%) of the managers surveyed here thought that an employee experiencing a mental health problem would be supported to remain in work, with reasonable adjustments made to their role. Yet just 19% of workers with mental health issues said they’d received such support.

“EAPs play a vital role in giving managers the knowledge and confidence to effectively address mental health issues in the workplace. The vast majority of EAPs contact a ‘manager services’ component which enables line managers to educate themselves about mental health issues in a confidential and non-judgemental setting, providing them with the skills and confidence to make early and effective interventions when the need arises,” commented Neil Mountford, chair of the UK EAPA.

73% of employees who have experienced a mental health problem say they would know how to have a conversation with a colleague who was finding it hard to cope and half of line managers felt confident that they could recognise the signs that a member of their team was having problems coping.

“A key challenge for many HR teams and EAP providers is to create and promote employee awareness of the EAP and making the support available here as accessible as possible to all employees. Whether it’s via an app the free-phone helpline number or the intranet, there are many ways for line managers and individuals to seek support for mental health issues and it’s vital that promoting the service remains at the top of HR’s ‘to do’ list,” adds Neil Mountford.

Alongside the research, Unum and the Mental Health Foundation have developed a mental health training module and online workshop with practical solutions and advice for business leaders and HR professionals. You can find out more about this at http://landing.unum.co.uk/mental-health.

Latest issue of UK EAPA Newsletter published!

Written by Liz Guilford on . Posted in News

Latest issue of UK EAPA Newsletter published!

The latest issue of the UK EAPA Member Newsletter has just been published. Featuring articles on topics including the recent EAPA annual general meeting, Paul Roberts’ emeritus award and EAP taxation. The newsletter also shares details of the June 2017 branch meeting. To read the newsletter, just click here.

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