EAPA urges employers to use their EAPs more effectively
A recent BUPA survey has reported that mental health issues are now a larger concern than physical ailments for many UK companies and that businesses are observing higher rates of mental illness compared to five years ago.
“This latest report confirms that if organisations want to better support their employees and truly embed a positive approach to workplace wellbeing, they need to treat mental health in the same way as they do physical health. And while we are certainly seeing the government and industry making strides to create this parity of vision, there is still some way to go,” said Neil Mountford, chair of the UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association.
The survey found while around 743,000 UK employees took long-term absences for mental health reasons within the past year, and that it was the main reason that employees did not go to work, more than half of the companies surveyed said that they did not know how to support employees with the challenge. However research shows that EAPs are the most popular workplace wellbeing initiative offered with more than 14 million employees having access to an EAP via their employer (Source: The Work Foundation, Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs): Supporting good work for UK employers?).
“While many employees have an EAP they are simply not being utilised effectively,” said Neil. “EAPA UK urges employers to engage with their EAP providers to better understand how EAPs can be used to support their mental health strategy. We know from our members that EAPs are successfully helping employees. Recent figures from the LifeWorks EAP service centre, for example, show that they have delivered mental health improvements in 92% of cases. We also know that EAPs are good for business by the number of employers who renew their EAP year on year and increasingly we are seeing EAPs evolving to offer apps which allow employees to have access to tools, information and support via their smartphone.
“To increase their effectiveness, employers (and their employees) need to challenge traditional perceptions of EAPs, moving the focus to the preventative role that they can play, rather than seeing an EAP as a last resort when an employee reaches crisis point. Just as mental health has become a top priority for businesses, so too should the value of their EAP in helping to better manage workplace wellbeing,” said Neil.