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40% of GP appointments now involve mental health

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

40% of GP appointments now involve mental health

A survey of more than 1,000 GPs conducted by mental health charity Mind has revealed that two in three GPs (66%) say the proportion of patients needing help with their mental health has increased in the last 12 months. In the light of these results, the charity is calling for better mental health training for GPs as four out of five doctors surveyed agreed there should be a wider range of options for mental health training.

“It will also be important to increase awareness among GPs about the services provided by EAPs so that they can encourage patients, where appropriate, to check if they have access to such provision and support services via their employer. This type of joined-up approach is crucial in helping us to better address and support mental health and ensure conversations start as early as possible,” said Neil Mountford, chair, EAPA UK.

“This latest survey again highlights the need for employers to recognise mental health in the same way they do physical health. Actively addressing mental health in this way will benefit businesses financially by reducing the costs associated with absenteeism and presenteeism and reputationally as they are recognised as a caring and ethical employer. EAPs have a significant preventative role to play and we urge employers to work with their providers to raise awareness about the services and support on offer,” he said.

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 mind.org.uk/index.

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 info@eapa.org.uk 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.

New ROI tool for employers and EAPs

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in ROI

New ROI tool for employers and EAPs

Last month, at our AGM, EAPA UK announced the launch of the UK’s first EAP ROI tool. This new tool, funded by EAPA UK and developed by Professor Stephen Bevan at the Institute of Employment Studies (IES) is the culmination of two years of research, resulting in the development of an algorithm that enables employers and EAP providers to now measure return on investment.

“For the first time EAP providers and employers will be able to demonstrate the value of their EAPs, using the results to better inform their health and wellbeing strategies and deliver even greater value to employees. Importantly, over time, this ROI tool will also provide a UK benchmark of EAP providers to help employers make more informed judgements of EAP value and quality,” said EAPA UK Chair, Neil Mountford.

Now available on the EAPA UK website, we would like to encourage our members and the organisations they work with to test out the EAP ROI tool. We’d also love to hear your thoughts and feedback at info@eapa.org.uk so that we can continue to refine and enhance the tool.

 

EAPs can help support mental health among middle managers

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

EAPs can help support mental health among middle managers

Last week, the CIPD launched the UK Working Lives survey, the first comprehensive measure of job quality in the UK. Combining previous research on the factors that affect job quality with a 6,000 sample survey, representative of the whole UK workforce, the results show that while overall headline satisfaction with work and jobs is reasonable, there are significant numbers who feel differently, and importantly some major systemic issues with overwork, stress and a lack of training and development.

It reports that while two-thirds of workers (64%) are satisfied with their job overall, one in four workers (25%) feel their job negatively affects their mental health, while nearly a third (30%) say their workload is too much. In particular, the survey highlights a concerning trend among workers in middle management, indicating that they have too much on their plate, a factor which is having a detrimental effect on their wellbeing. Among its recommendations, the CIPD advises employers address cultures of presenteeism, place a greater focus on wellbeing and encourage more flexible working.

“While many organisations already have an EAP in place to support the wellbeing of their employees, there appears to be a lack of awareness around the coaching and guidance element of many EAP programmes which are there to support line managers specifically,” said Neil Mountford, chair of the UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association. “We urge employers to talk to their EAP provider about these services and to work together to more actively promote the training and coaching services available to line managers which can help them manage their day-to-day pressures more effectively.”

You can ready the CIPD’s UK Working Lives Survey here.

 

Promoting EAPs during National Stress Awareness month

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

Promoting EAPs during National Stress Awareness Month

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), 12.5 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2016/17. During the same period, more than 500,000 workers stated that they were suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety. GPs also report that symptoms of stress are on the increase in the UK, with the majority of GPs (85%) reporting a rise in the number of patients with symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression in the last five years according to a survey by Royal London.

While the majority of work-related stress is attributed to workload, around 1 in 7 people say it is due to lack of support. Yet we know that Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) are the most popular wellbeing initiative provided by employers in the UK. While awareness is growing slowly, a gap still exists between awareness and the services already being provided by organisations to support mental health issues. “The issue here is that while some employees are aware their organisation has an EAP, they don’t necessarily know what it means and how it can help,” says Neil Mountford, chair of the UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association.

“Hosting regular EAP awareness and mental health awareness sessions can help give employees a better understanding of mental health , as well as an awareness of the services and support available to them. Improving knowledge of how EAPs can help will also increase usage of the service. If there are concerns around confidentiality of the EAP, it is vital to communicate that any discussions are private and confidential and will not be shared with their employer. It also helps if managers have a better understanding of the EAP and other support services available so that they can talk to employees about these.

“In order for an EAP to deliver significant benefit and value, employers need to work with their providers to raise awareness and provide education for employees. Organisations that do this will see the long term benefits of a successful EAP and the positive impact on employee wellbeing and organisation through improved productivity and fewer days lost to mental ill health. Line manager education and coaching on how best to manage mental health issues is also a key part of the equation and while EAPs have the capability, expertise and capacity to do this, this is less well known and utilised by employers.

“If take-up of your EAP is low, consider creating events or communications to tie in with key events on the wellbeing calendar and help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. Ultimately, it is in the interest of all EAP providers to raise awareness of the issue of mental health at work and the role we can play in eradicating the problem and April’s National Stress Awareness Month could be the perfect place to start.”

EAPA urges employers to use their EAPs more effectively

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

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.

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