Archive for May, 2017

How EAPs can help employees to manage the impact of trauma

Written by Vicky Mulchinock 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

Research calls for greater line manager awareness of mental health issues

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in ROI

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

Latest issue of UK EAPA Newsletter published!

Written by Vicky Mulchinock 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.

Programme announced for 2017 EAEF conference

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

Programme announced for 2017 EAEF conference

The Employee Assistance European Forum’s (EAEF)AEF annual conference takes place on 15 and 16 June 2017 in Milan, Italy.

This year’s conference these is ‘EAP: making a continued difference in times of change’ and will feature speakers looking at topics such as the integration of occupational psychology and psychiatry with EAPs and how to calculate the rate of return on EAPs. UK EAPA chair, Neil Mountford, is also speaking at the conference, sharing the findings of the UK EAPA’s research into the use, impact and reach of EAPs in today’s organisations.

The conference is open to non-members of the EAEF and for more information on the event, its speakers and how to book your place, go to

June 2017 branch meeting: is technology in mental health a dream solution or a curse?

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News, Talks

June 2017 branch meeting: is technology in mental health a dream solution or a curse?

The next UK EAPA branch meeting takes place on Tuesday 20 June at the Linnean Society in Piccadilly. The session starts at 10:30 and we are pleased to welcome vice chair, Eugene Farrell, as our guest speaker. Eugene will discuss whether technology in mental health is a dream solution or a curse.

“Technology has a huge influence on our life and our work, it is changing how we act, think and relate to each other. Importantly, changing technology is having an effect upon how we monitor and treat mental health. Developments in things like gaming are being used in the treatment room, and new start up and apps are appearing daily. It is currently impossible to anticipate a set of benefits from the use of technology in mental health, and we can barely guess what patients’ reactions will be.  Some of us shudder at the thought of the use of email counselling, but why? During the session we will look at how limits in the use of technology can change and boundaries pushed back as people adapt and accept change,” said Eugene.

To confirm your attendance at the June branch meeting, please email

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