Archive for May, 2018

Supporting the mental wellbeing of line managers

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

Supporting the mental wellbeing of line managers

Research from the Chartered Institute of Management shows that the average manager puts in an extra 7.5 hours a week, equating to 44 more working days a year. That effectively cancels out holiday allowance and such demands mean that one in 10 managers have reported taking sick leave for stress and mental health issues over the last year.

When it comes to addressing mental health at work much has been written about the importance of mental health first aid training for line managers and their role in promoting support services, such as EAPs, to employees. And while this is vitally important in creating a culture of acceptance around mental health, we must also ensure that the line managers themselves, are not overlooked.

“Managers are often under pressure to be ‘always on’, checking and responding to emails and calls out of hours or when on holiday and it is often this digital presenteeism that negatively impacts work-life balance and increases stress levels in managers,” said Neil Mountford, EAPA chair.

“Failure to address the pressures and concerns facing managers can also lead to bad management which in turn creates additional stress and poor mental wellbeing both for the manager and potentially those in their teams. We also know that managers are often the most reluctant group to seek support for issues that are affecting them and that seeking help can be viewed as a sign of ‘weakness’ or worry that they may be judged and unable to cope.

“Changing the organisational culture to be more supportive of mental health should therefore also involve changing manager attitudes and behaviours and encouraging them to take action to address issues affecting their own mental wellbeing. EAPs, can be an important resource for managers.  Most will offer a Manager Consultation service which provides the opportunity for managers to discuss issues they are struggling with in a confidential setting and an approach that is generally practical and pragmatic.

“To encourage more effective use of these types of services, we urge employers to promote EAPs as a useful professional and personal development tool for managers, rather than simply a safety net for those who can’t cope,” said Neil.

Mind finds employees staying silent on poor mental health

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

Mind finds employees staying silent on poor mental health

This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is focusing on the way stress impacts our lives. As part of this, a major new survey from Mind, of almost 44,000 employees, has found that almost half (48 per cent) had experienced poor mental health, such as stress, low mood, and anxiety, while working at their current organisation. Of those respondents, only half chose to tell their employer about their difficulties (10,554).

The data was gathered from the 74 organisations that took part in Mind’s latest Workplace Wellbeing Index, a benchmark of best policy and practice which celebrates the work employers are doing to promote and support positive mental health. These new findings also show:

  • More than eight in ten people (84 per cent) would continue to go to work when experiencing poor mental health while only just over half (58 per cent) would go to work when experiencing poor physical health
  • Only two fifths (42 per cent) of all employees surveyed felt their manager would be able to spot the signs they were struggling with poor mental health
  • A fifth (21 per cent) of all respondents feel that their current workload is unmanageable

Employers taking part in Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index are aiming to create a culture where staff feel able to talk openly about their mental health. Encouragingly this year two thirds (61 per cent) of employers taking part in the Index intend to increase spend on workplace wellbeing activities to create a more positive and open culture.

“This latest survey from Mind shows that there is still a lot of work to be done to destigmatise mental health in the workplace. Crucially, employers need to create workplace wellbeing strategies that treat mental health in the same way as physical health and work harder to foster a culture of acceptance so that employees are not anxious or intimidated about discussing mental health,” said EAPA chair, Neil Mountford.

“Employers need to make better use of the positive mental health support services available, such as EAPs, which can help tackle these high levels of stress,” said Neil. “We know from our members that EAPs are successfully helping employees. Recent figures from the LifeWorks EAP, for example, show that they have delivered mental health improvements in 92% of cases. So we urge employers to engage with their EAP providers to better understand how they can be used to support their mental health strategy and how they can work together on tailored communications, training and events to help raise awareness.”

More information about Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index can be found at

Diary date: EAPA branch meeting, 19 June 2018, Linnean Society, Piccadilly

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in Events

Diary date: EAPA branch meeting, 19 June 2018, Linnean Society, Piccadilly

The next EAPA branch meeting will take place at 11.30 on 19 June at the Linnean Society on Piccadilly. Coffee will be available from 11am. We are delighted to announce that Nick Pahl, CEO of the Society for Occupational Health has confirmed his attendance as our guest speaker. This will be a great opportunity to hear Nick’s insights into developments within the OH space and to discuss how our associations can collaborate to foster a stronger working relationship between EAPs and Occupational Health services.

If you have an OH colleague you would like to bring as a guest to participate in this part of the meeting we would be happy to welcome them. A full agenda with timings will be circulated shortly, but in the meantime, please email to confirm your attendance.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2018

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in mental health

Mental Health Awareness Week 2018

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week next week which makes it the perfect opportunity to review workplace health and wellbeing and think about what more employers could be doing to create, and promote, a culture of acceptance around mental health.

While the majority of work-related stress is attributed to workload, around 1 in 7 people say it is due to a lack of support despite EAPs being the most popular wellbeing initiative provided by employers in the UK. So why the disparity? “While awareness is growing, there’s still a significant disconnect between the EAP services already being provided by organisation to support workplace stress and wellbeing and awareness among employees,” explains EAPA UK chair, Neil Mountford. “There are a number of issues at play that are focused around a lack of understanding of what an EAP is and how it can help but also employee concerns about the confidentiality of these types of services. If employers are serious about creating mentally healthy workplaces, a good first step is dispelling the myths and improving the knowledge that exists around EAPs within their organisation.”

This starts with educating managers about the EAP and its services so that they can better communicate this to their teams and signpost more effectively when needed. Organisations could also think about hosting regular EAP awareness and mental health education sessions. By improving knowledge around EAPs, employers can help increase usage of the service and help mitigate mental health issues from escalating to the level of requiring clinical intervention and time away from work.

“We would encourage employers to talk to their EAP providers about working together to develop tailored communications and education sessions to increase knowledge and awareness around the wide range of services provided by EAPs. Organisations that do this will see the long term benefits of a successful EAP and the positive impact of employees wellbeing on the organisation through improved productivity and fewer days lost to mental ill health,” said Neil.

So if take-up of your EAP is low, Mental Health Awareness Week could be the perfect opportunity to start educating employees about what an EAP is and the different ways it can help.

Removing the taboo around mental health at Lloyds

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

Removing the taboo around mental health at Lloyds

Earlier this week, Lloyd’s CEO, António Horta-Osório wrote for The Guardian about mental health and attitudes to it the workplace. Since taking a leave of absence to deal with serious insomnia shortly after joining the bank in 2011, António Horta-Osório has spoken openly and frankly about his challenges with mental health. At that time he spent nine days at the Priory clinic to prevent a nervous breakdown after his insomnia reached a tipping point. With the support of his family and employers, he was able to make a full recovery. Not only did he return to work, but he led Lloyds to become the first bank rescued by the government fully to repay taxpayers’ money.

This is not such an unusual scenario. People take time out to recover from mental illness and often people with mental health issues return to work stronger and more successful. But what sets António Horta-Osório apart is that he took the decision to go public about his illness and his recovery. While progress has been made in confronting the stigma of mental health in the workplace, it remains rare for a senior business executive to share their experience and admit vulnerability in this way.

In this latest article, he shows the importance of leading by example and in creating a workplace culture and mindset where mental illness is perceived in the same way as physical illness. He talks about how removing the taboo around mental health at Lloyd’s has had powerful results, helping both staff – and the business – to thrive. Highlighting the decline in UK productivity since 2007, he points out that: “While several economic factors have caused this decline it is time to acknowledge a less visible yet more pervasive factor: mental health and attitudes in the workplace. It is clear to me that the most important change needed is one of mindset. As with our physical health, all of us can experience periods of mental ill health when immediate treatment is needed, or we run the risk of developing long-term conditions that will need continuing support. With a culture of adequate support and sufficient time off, an employee can return to work with confidence and without embarrassment.”

Using an anonymous example of one of Lloyd’s managers, he talks about how the employee used their employee assistance programme helpline to provide him with advice on coping with anxiety, mindfulness and dealing with self-control and that with the help of professionals and the knowledge that he is fully supported by his manager and his team, the employee is now genuinely excelling his role. He explains how creating a positive culture to inspire open conversations is key and that Lloyds takes an approach that focuses on the spectrum of mental health, from everyday wellbeing through to clinically diagnosed conditions, looking at prevention as well as support. “What has been most powerful for many colleagues has been the simple step of enabling people to talk openly about their experiences without fear of judgement. Changing the corporate mindset on mental health, is the most fundament step towards changing things for the better.”

“This is a great example of a senior leader making this a key issue, working to embed mental health within the values of the organisation and creating a culture that encourages employees to speak out about their personal experiences and ask for support,” said Neil Mountford, chair of EAPA UK. “It also shows the value and importance of EAPs in forming part of a holistic approach to employee wellbeing that also included physical health and wellbeing initiatives.”

You can read the full article here.

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