BiTC Mental Health at Work Survey 2018

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BiTC Mental Health at Work Survey 2018

Now in its third year, Business in the Community’s Mental Health at Work survey, in conjunction with Mercer, is the UK’s biggest survey of mental health at work. Everyone has mental health in the same way as everyone has physical health. Mental ill-health is one of the biggest public health challenges facing society and research shows that one in six workers are experiencing stress, depression or anxiety at any one time. Business in the Community want to find out how employers are supporting people in order to develop recommendations for business to improve.

The 2017 survey findings highlighted:

  • Three out of every five (60%) employees had experienced mental health issues due to work or where work was a related factor
  • 84% of managers accepted that employee wellbeing is their responsibility yet less than a quarter (24%) had received any training in mental health
  • Shockingly in 15% of cases where employees disclosed a mental health issue to a line manager, the employee subsequently became subject to disciplinary procedures, demotion or dismissal.

“UK EAPA welcomes and supports the BiTC Mental Health at Work survey and the insights it provides into how attitudes towards mental health in the work place are changing,” said Neil Mountford, chair, UK EAPA.  “EAP is a key resource and source of support on these issues which is available to an increasing number of employees and we would like to encourage our members to support and promote this year’s survey.”

The survey is open to anyone in the UK who is employed or self-employed and over the age of 16, all responses are anonymous and the survey can be completed at www.thewellbeingsurvey.org.uk.

The survey will close on 27 July with the report and recommendations due to be published in October.

The importance of promoting EAP services

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The importance of promoting EAP services

A US study published last week has revealed that the promotion of EAP services in the workplace has a significant and positive impact on overall EAP usage.

The study examined utilisation data from US EAP provider, KGA to explore the impact of different kinds of promotional activity on increasing and decreasing the use of EAP services. Analysts reviewed the utilisation records over a two-year period for 82 employers, with 150,000 total covered employees. Interviews were also conducted with HR managers which uncovered themes around the challenges to promotion and the potential tactics that could be most effective.

The analysis of 5,985 EAP cases found that promotional materials were the number one source of referral into the EAP, with one in three cases citing it.

“This latest study highlights the importance of an effective promotional strategy in driving user awareness and engagement with EAPs,” said Neil Mountford, Chair of UK EAPA. “We know from our members that employers who engage in regular EAP promotional activity, particularly online through webinars, email promotions and apps, can see a significant uplift in usage.”

“We urge employers to consult with their EAP provider and tap into their experience and expertise in creating promotional plans tailored to the needs of the organisation. EAP providers can also advise on which channels have been proven to work most effectively and can help develop the messaging around EAP promotion so that it addresses the specific priorities and concerns of their workforce,” he said.

“The more effort an organisation puts into promoting the EAP programme and driving engagement and utilisation, the better its data will be. This can provide valuable insights into how employees are feeling as well as point to early warning signs of recurring themes around physical or mental wellbeing and general workplace issues and ensures that the right areas are prioritised by the organisation. At a time when mental wellbeing is top of the HR agenda, there has never been a better time to look at EAPs and broaden perceptions around what it can do and how it can fit in with a wider wellbeing strategy.”

Collaborating to create healthier workplaces

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Collaborating to create healthier workplaces

Earlier this week, UK EAPA was pleased to welcome Nick Pahl, CEO of the Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) as the guest speaker at the June 2018 Branch Meeting. SOM is the UK organisation for all doctors and health professionals working in or with an interest in occupational health. During his presentation, Nick highlighted the work of SOM and some key issues facing the occupational health sector, sparking an insightful discussion around the areas where UK EAPA and SOM might collaborate to further educate practitioners, purchasers and the Government on the value and respective roles of EAPs and OH in contributing to healthier workplaces. Attendees also explored the ways in which the two organisations can better interface with one another to improve overall effectiveness for the sector.

During the meeting, there was also discussion of a possible joint approach to the Government’s Work and Health Unit which has been jointly sponsored by the Department of Work and Pensions and the Department of Health. Other issues raised included the need for further research to improve the evidence base, how EAPs and occupational health can work more preventatively and tax incentives for employers.

“I would like to thank Nick for joining us and engaging our members and their occupational health colleagues in a really interesting discussion around how we can work better together. We will be meeting again to work through some ideas for collaborative projects and will report back in due course,” said Neil Mountford, chair of UK EAPA.

The slides from Nick Pahl’s presentation will be made available via the EAPA website.

Q&A with Nick Pahl, CEO, Society of Occupational Medicine

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Q&A with Nick Pahl, CEO, Society of Occupational Medicine

Nick Pahl, CEO of the Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) will be our guest speaker at the branch meeting taking place next Tuesday 19 June. Here, Nick provides an insight into some of the key trends and developments in occupational health, particularly around mental health at work.

What are the key trends in the development of OH that are forecast over the next few years, particularly in the area of mental health?

Occupational health services cover around 50% of the UK’s population. I expect that coverage to increase, to cover more small and medium enterprises. This may be facilitated by new incentives that the Government will create following current policy activity in this area.

Considering the time it takes to train skilled professionals, I would expect this expansion to be facilitated via the use of lower skilled occupational health professionals, such as occupational health technicians. I also hope and expect that that there would be great emphasis on a multidisciplinary occupational health team using nurses, physiotherapists, psychologists and technicians, as well as doctors. This team will ideally link seamlessly with EAP providers and HR services.

Without doubt we will see greater use of IT, both in terms of hand held / smart phone records held by workers to assist with workplace health issues and, integration of occupational health IT activity with other employee support.

In terms of mental health, I unfortunately think that the rapid change in the “nature” of work will accelerate, with a response from workers in stress and anxiety as they perceive less control over their work and sense of purpose. There will also likely be a continued rise in the numbers of the “precariat” and people close to the poverty line who do not have access to workplace health. This is a challenge that I hope the Government responds to.

What are your views in response to the Thriving at Work report?

I welcome the focus on mental health at work. Along with musculoskeletal conditions, mental health is one of the two main issues UK workers face. Disclosure of mental health issues is important, as openness towards mental health issues is a key barrier to positive progress in this area. Of course, we all need to learn to be resilient to deal with life’s challenges and we need to be careful not to medicalise mental health issues if at all possible.

It is great to see the Government responding in full to the report’s recommendations. However, I am concerned that encouraging demand for mental health services is not matched by resources for supply. There also needs to be a focus on good jobs and job design so that problems don’t emerge from structural issues. The role of the manager is critical to ensure good mental health at work – to manage well, and give control to workers. But there is a limit to what managers can do. I’d like to see a greater evidence base for mental health first aid training, which is seeing considerable resource investment in this area.

How are EAPs viewed and what’s the general level of awareness?

EAPs have a key role to play in improving mental health at work. It is not a total panacea but it can really assist with issues that contribute to poor mental health through counselling and advice on debt, legal issues relating to divorce and other “outside-work” issues.

SOM members are aware that EAPs really make a difference providing proactive and direct support for the benefit of employees. I’m sure that EAP services are clear on what advice is given and how that matches company needs but that needs to be explicit, in particular for companies that have both an OH and EAP offer.  I know occupational health professionals would welcome greater collaboration between EAPs and OH – and for there to be a greater joined-up strategic approach to improving mental health.

What do you see as the key strengths of an EAP service?

A key strength of an EAP service versus an OH service is that EAPs can be available very swiftly (such as via phone). They also work hand-in-hand with OH to help create an environment where employees feel supported.  It’s worth reminding ourselves that each workplace is different and an exercise of health surveillance is a key first step to assess what services a workplace needs is important.

Finally, I would expect EAPs and OH to work together further in the future and I hope the discussions between EAP providers and SOM are fruitful, to facilitate this further.

You can hear more from Nick Pahl at the branch meeting next Tuesday 19 June at 11.00 at the Linnean Society on Piccadilly. Members are encouraged to bring OH colleagues as guests for this part of the meeting. To confirm your attendance, email info@eapa.org.uk.

40% of GP appointments now involve mental health

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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

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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

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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.

Removing the taboo around mental health at Lloyds

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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.

EAPs can help support mental health among middle managers

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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

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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.”

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