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.

Mental health is the number one concern for UK CEOs

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in mental health

Mental health is the number one concern for UK CEOs

Mental health in the workplace is the top priority for almost three in five (60%) CEOs in the UK and the area of employee wellbeing with which their Board is most concerned, according to a new report, Employee Wellbeing Research 2018 from Reward & Employee Benefits Association (REBA) in association with Punter Southall Health & Protection.

The report found that just one in six (16%) employers have a defined mental health strategy in place, however over a third (37%) plan to introduce one in the next 12 months and a further quarter (26%) by 2020. And while wellbeing spending rose in 2017 and is expected to rise further in 2018, it remains relatively low, with a median spend of just £26 to £50 per year per employee, even at organisations with a wellbeing strategy in place.

Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) continue to be the most popular wellbeing initiative, offered by more than nine in ten (93%) organisations and looking at long-term trends, the report shows that EAPs have also steadily increased in popularity over the past three years.

“It is encouraging that EAPs are so well established but we would urge employers to take this a step further and look at how their EAP can better support their mental health strategy. All too often EAPs are seen only as a counselling service for employees but this is just one part of the support and service that EAPs can offer. Many EAPs can play an important role in identifying the issues preventing an organisation from managing mental health effectively through risk assessments and stress audits. They can also provide mental health first aid training and coaching specifically designed to support line managers in managing mental health in the workplace,” said Neil Mountford, chair of the UK Employee Assistance Association.

A key issue uncovered by this latest research from REBA is that the wellbeing programmes are not being driven by the board. Less than one in ten (8%) say the board actively drives the organisation’s wellbeing agenda and one in twenty (5%) say their board has little or no interest in employee wellbeing.

“It is positive that employers are now talking more openly about mental health but concerning that so few strategies are being driven by the board. Fostering a culture of acceptance around mental health requires a long term cultural shift in attitudes and approach and in our experience, the most effective way to do this is to ensure it is openly championed by senior management so that it becomes embedded in the company’s values,” said Neil.

You can read more about the REBA wellbeing research here

Third of UK workers say their employer has no interest in their mental health

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in mental health

Third of UK workers say their employer has no interest in their mental health

 New research from management services firm, ADP reveals that a 31% of workers say their employer has little or no interest in their mental health, despite the fact that 20% are stressed out on a daily basis, and for almost 33% of workers, the issue is so bad that they’re considering looking for a new role.

According to the study of nearly 1,300 workers, workplace stress peaks amongst younger employees with 22% of workers under 35 saying they experience stress every day and 42% saying that it is so bad, they’re considering jumping ship. This contrasts with only 19% and 26% respectively for those over 35 who feel this way suggesting employees may become better at managing stress as they get older.

“Awareness by employers of the impact of mental health issues in the workplace is increasing as the issue has received greater attention in the mainstream press. However, responses are still variable and more work needs to be done to educate employers on the strategies they should be adopting to build a healthy mental health culture within their organisations.

“Staff becoming ill through stress often leads to employee absence and a high staff turnover, neither of which are good for business. Employers need to focus on the fundamentals, building a culture that recognises the importance of mental health and assigns it the same priority as physical health and safety.  Education is key, both for managers and employees. It is important that employees should not feel inhibited about raising these issues with their managers, and feel confident that their concerns will be received sympathetically, appropriate action will be taken and there will be no negative impact on the organisation’s assessment of their performance or opportunities for advancement.

“EAPs have been a longstanding workplace benefit focusing on mental health, but often remain poorly promoted and under-utilised. When developing a wellbeing strategy, we urge employers to work in partnership with their EAP to better integrate the EAP with the other health and wellness services and benefits they provide and emphasise a holistic approach,” said Neil Mountford, chair of the UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association.

Encouraging an open dialogue on mental health

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in mental health

Encouraging an open dialogue on mental health

The Mental Health at Work report published last year by Business in the Community (BITC) found that only 11% of employees had discussed a recent mental health problem with their line manager and that half of employees said they would not discuss mental health with their line manager. “While we are seeing a greater focus and commitment from employers to create mentally healthy workplaces, there is still much work to be done to address this fear around speaking out about mental health at work,” said EAPA Chair, Neil Mountford.

“An important first step is to foster a culture of acceptance so that employees are not anxious or intimidated about discussing mental health in the workplace. There is no quick fix, this is about creating a long term cultural shift in attitudes and approach but what is clear is that the most effective way to this is to ensure it is openly championed by senior management and becomes embedded in the company’s values. Encouraging ambassadors and champions, from across all levels of the organisation, to share their stories is crucial as these can be used to initiate further discussions in team meetings and in one-to-ones as is equipping line managers with the mental health first aid tools, training and ongoing coaching they need to support and encourage their teams to speak out.

24 hour counselling

“It is well known that EAPs offer a 24 hour counselling service which can be accessed by employees, but there is much less awareness around the wide range of other services offered by our registered EAP providers such as stress audits, risk assessments and mental health first aid training and ongoing coaching for line managers which can support both the development and implementation of mental health strategies in the workplace. We are also seeing the most enlightened employers using new technology to create opportunities for dialogue and openness with the use of digital forums that link into EAPs and the overall mental health strategy and systems they have in place,” said Neil.

Time to Talk about mental health

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in mental health, News

Time to Talk about mental health

We know that there’s no perfect time or place to talk about mental health, but we also know that conversations change lives. Encouraging friends, colleagues and family members to speak out is what Time To Talk day is all about and we applaud this campaign which aims to help destigmatise mental health in our society and in our workplaces.

“And when it comes to developing a mental health strategy, EAPA UK encourages employers to talk to their EAP providers about the wide variety of services and support available. The first step should be identifying the issues that are preventing the organisation from managing mental health and EAP providers can play an important role in this by carrying out risk assessments, stress audits and working with employers to develop the overall strategy. The second step is around training and coaching for line managers and again many EAP providers will offer services specifically targeted at line managers designed to help them better understand and manage mental health in the workplace. And finally, employers can offer support to their employees experiencing mental health issues by providing access to an EAPs counselling service.

“All too often EAPs are seen only as a counselling service for employees but this is just one part of the support and services that EAPs can offer to employers. So make time to talk to your EAP partner about all the different ways in which they can support mental health in the workplace and maximise opportunities to tap into this often underused and untapped expertise,” said Neil.

Read more about how EAPs can support mental health at work in one of our latest EAPA UK factsheets here.

NEW publication! Managing traumatic events in the workplace

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in mental health

Managing traumatic events in the workplace

The stress, fear and anxiety that is experienced by individuals who experience a traumatic incident can be overwhelming in terms of the physical, emotional and psychological impact it can have. Individuals affected by trauma – whether it’s a fire, theft or sudden death in the workplace, natural disasters, terrorism or even organisational change – can be profoundly affected by their experience and for their employers, it can be difficult to know how to respond.

In a new factsheet from the UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association, written by Caroline Ribeiro-Nelson, experienced Psychotherapist, Consultant and Trainer and an executive member of the UK EAPA, the Association outlines the reactions that an individual may expect following a traumatic event. The factsheet covers the signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and what managers should look out for following an incident. It also outlines steps that can be taken to support employees to recover and return to normal business operations, as well as the role of an EAP in supporting those affected by trauma.

You can download your own copy of this new factsheet here.

Mental health crisis facing UK

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in mental health, News

Mental health crisis facing UK

Latest research from Aviva confirms the mental health crisis that the UK is facing, with half of UK adults (26 million people) admitting that they are unsure or uncomfortable about telling others if they have a mental health problem. Interestingly, in Aviva’s Wellbeing Report, the same number (47%) of UK adults said they were currently experiencing or have recovered from a past mental health condition.

“Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) are an important part of the solution to this impending mental health crisis and can provide much needed support to individuals who are struggling with their mental health. EAPs are one of the quickest ways for people who are facing a wide range of mental health issues to access counselling and related support services.

“And given the current pressure on NHS primary care services, EAPs are particularly well placed to provide positive, professional support for people to help them identify and resolve personal issues that are affecting their mental health and may be impacting – or have the potential to – impact on job performance and the wider workplace,” said Neil Mountford, chair of the UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association.

You can read more about Aviva’s research here.

70% of employers say EAPs are most valuable health and wellbeing benefit

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in mental health, News

70% of employers say EAPs are most valuable health and wellbeing benefit

New research by Hargreaves Lansdown reveals that 70% of employers believe that an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is the most valuable health and wellbeing benefit.

“This finding is certainly welcomed by the EAP industry and is supported by our own research, undertaken by the Work Foundation (2016), that more and more organisations (67%) are using EAPs as part of their health and wellbeing plans. Among HR professionals, EAPs are perceived as important in delivering a personal and professional source of support that, crucially, is independent from the workplace.

“However, although EAPs have become established as a reassuring support service that is operating in the background of an organisation, it’s important that, looking forward, EAP providers focus on the development of their role as a strategic partner for health and wellbeing that can deliver return on investment and contribute valuable intelligence to cultural and structural workplace issues that can reduce engagement, stress, sickness absence and promote wellbeing.

“The UK EAPA’s investment in additional research in partnership with the Institute for Employment Studies will further help the industry to understand more about the return on investment in EAPs which, we believe, will enable even more employers to regard EAPs as the most valuable health and wellbeing benefit,” commented Neil Mountford, chair of the UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association.

More information on the Hargreaves Lansdown study, which surveyed 349 UK employers, can be seen here.

 

Pressure at work is key cause of employee stress

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in mental health

Pressure at work is a key cause of employee stress

Given that pressure at work and a poor work / life balance are key causes of stress and mental health issues, new research that indicates employees are feeling pressure from their supervisors, colleagues and technology to work during their free time should be of major concern for employers, said Neil Mountford, chair of the UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association.

The research from the University of Surrey calls for employers to do more to ensure employees are not subjected to pressure to work outside of their contracted hours and reminds us that an individual’s failure to disconnect from work can negatively impact on an employee’s wellbeing.

“Whilst employees do need to take personal responsibility for how they plan their working day and how they balance demands from their employer and clients which may naturally fall outside their standard working hours, there will be occasions where these circumstances impact on an employee’s mental health and wellbeing. Where this does happen, employee assistance programmes (EAPs) can demonstrate their value as an accessible and confidential channel that provides professional support for employees whose mental health is being impacted by pressure at work.

“Of course, EAPs can only become truly effective here where employees are aware of the scope of support that is available to them to help reduce the impact of poor mental health on their wellbeing and their work. Here it’s important that EAPs are regularly promoted to employees and that, within the organisation, they continue to be positioned as part of a wider wellbeing and engagement strategy that reviews the extent and impact of work / life balance on the culture and productivity of an organisation,” says Neil Mountford.

Report estimates the cost of poor mental health to UK organisations

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in mental health, News, thriving at work

Report estimates the cost of poor mental health to UK organisations

An independent government commissioned review into mental health at work, ‘Thriving at work: a review of mental health and employers’, has found that 300,000 people with a long-term mental health problem lose their jobs each year, and that 15% of people at work have symptoms of a mental health condition.

The report estimates the cost of poor mental health to UK organisations to be as high as £42 billion, with half of this cost attributed to presenteeism and the rest a result of sickness absence and employee turnover.

“The UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association supports the ‘mental health core standards’ that the report puts forward. This framework, which emphasises the importance of developing mental health awareness among employees and promoting effective people management through line managers, has the potential to be an important tool through which employers and EAP providers can work better together to support employee mental health.

“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 and as such they are an effective tool in combating the mental health crisis that we’re facing in the UK. With more than half the UK working population having access to an EAP, according to UK EAPA estimates, we have a tremendous opportunity to support and promote employee health and wellbeing and reducing levels of psychological distress in the workplace,” said Neil Mountford, chair of the UK EAPA.

The ‘mental health core standards’ recommended by the government commissioned review into mental health at work are:

  • Produce, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan;
  • Develop mental health awareness among employees;
  • Encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling;
  • Provide employees with good working conditions and ensure they have a healthy work/life balance and opportunities for development;
  • Promote effective people management through line managers and supervisors;
  • Routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing.

You can find out more about the review here.

thriving at work

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