Managing workplace mental health more effectively
Yesterday was National Stress Awareness Day, a day created by mental health charity, Mind, to encourage people to take a moment to think about their wellbeing. It’s also a great opportunity for employers to look at what more they can do to support mental wellbeing at work.
The latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), released last week, show that work-related stress and mental illness now accounts for over half of work absences. In total, 15.4 million working days were lost in 2017/2018 as a result of mental ill health, up from 12.5 million last year. This equates to 57.3% of the 26.8 million work days lost to ill health.
“While a new 24-hour mental health hotline along with funding for a new mental health service were announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond as part of the Autumn Budget last week, it is clear that employers need to be more proactive in addressing workplace mental health and supporting their employees more effectively,” said Neil Mountford, chair, UK EAPA.
It is positive to note that a recent survey by EAPA registered provider, Aon, shows that businesses are taking an increasingly strategic approach. Aon’s UK Health Survey found that 41% of businesses currently have a mental health strategy in place and 43% more are looking to create one. “Many businesses aim to build this strategy as a core part of their employee benefits provision, recognising that the right employee benefits play a critical role in prevention, early diagnosis, treatment and longer-term support,” explained Charles Alberts, head of health management at Aon.
“EAPs are a key of that mental health strategy and we are seeing EAPs adapting and evolving to keep pace with the changing needs of employers and their employees,” said Neil Mountford. “The biggest impact is in a re-positioning of how an EAP is used, away from the last resort for serious issues and concerns towards being a more everyday source of advice and support – less the counsellor and more a friendly colleague who has the right answers. Employers are also becoming increasingly aware of the importance of data and that the more an EAP is promoted, the more it is used and that means more data is collected on employee concerns and levels of physical and mental wellbeing. This then provides an early warning system on organisational wellbeing and evidence to inform better HR strategy-making.”
“We urge employers to consult with their EAP providers and tap into their experience and expertise to better understand how EAP programmes can be used most effectively to support a wider wellbeing strategy,” said Neil.