Posts Tagged ‘health and wellbeing’

New research from Aon shows debt, relationship breakup and bullying are the top employer concerns about employee mental health

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

New research from Aon shows debt, relationship breakup and bullying are the top employer concerns about employee mental health

Aon, the global professional services firm, polled employers online and during a recent seminar where Paul Farmer, CEO of Mind and co-author of the government’s Thriving at Work report presented his findings. Of the 92 employers surveyed, 39 stated that money and debt were their biggest concerns for employee mental health, 27 said divorce and separation, and 26 said bullying and harassment was the biggest issue.

Loneliness is also a factor in today’s workplaces, with 22 employers highlighting it as a factor. Working carers, bereavement, technology, home/lone working and the menopause are also of concern. The poll enabled employers to highlight other mental health issues. These were addiction, which eight employers noted as an issue, along with gender, sexuality and race.

Aon has also published a paper, The Contemporary Drivers of Mental Health, showing the issues that can contribute to or cause poor employee mental health. It details how understanding and addressing concerns with a broader, more comprehensive approach is required to help prevent issues from occurring, detecting any problems early on, providing rapid interventions and supporting employees who have longer-term issues.

Charles Alberts, head of health management at Aon and EAPA executive board member, said: “There are many drivers of poor mental health both in and out of work and because mental health has a dynamic nature, employees will have different levels of mental health at any given time. Some of these issues may be newly identified and therefore not yet fully considered by employers; others may be taboo, exacerbating the original personal issue and creating a culture of silence that can be more difficult to tackle.”

Beyond the effects of poor mental health on the individual, mental health is a significant issue for businesses. It can increase presenteeism and absence, negatively impact productivity, morale and engagement, amounting to an average cost per employee of between £1,205 and £1,560 per year, according to Deloitte. This cost is for all employees, not just those who are ill.

“It is not difficult to see why so many people may be impacted by poor mental health. Relate research, for instance, shows that 18% of relationships are in a distressed state at any one time1. Relationship failure is second only to bereavement as a cause of mental distress. Of concern, too, are the 1 in 9 people in the UK who currently combine work with caring responsibilities for elderly relatives. By 2040, when the 65 and over age bracket will account for 25% of the population, that 1 in 9 is projected to be 1 in 6, according to Eldercare. The issue is even more daunting for those tasked with caring for elderly parents alongside children – the so-called ‘sandwich generation’ of approximately 2.4 million people in the UK,” added Charles.

“Within any organisational demographic there will be thriving workers, struggling workers and those with mental illness, so interventions are needed such as designing a positive, open and supportive culture around mental health and mitigating any psychosocial risks in the workplace itself. EAPs can play an important role in supporting an organisation’s mental health strategy, both in terms of ensuring early detection of mental ill health, as well as providing access to treatment and services to support recovery,” he said.

 

Mental health affecting nine in 10 workers

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

Mental health affecting nine in 10 workers

Research published last week by management consultancy firm, Accenture has found that two thirds (66%) of UK workers report having had a personal experience with mental ill health. This rose to 85% when individuals were asked if someone close to them had experienced mental health issues and 90% said they had been “touched by mental health challenges”.

It is encouraging that 82% felt more able to talk about such issues than they did a few years previously and that more than a quarter (27%) of respondents said they’d seen a positive change in employees speaking openly about mental health. However, 61% have not spoken to anyone at work about their mental health and 51% believe raising concerns about it might have a detrimental effect on their career.

“It’s clear that mental health is not a minority issue; it touches almost all employees and can affect their ability to perform at work and live life to the fullest,” said Barbara Harvey, a managing director and UK mental health lead for Accenture.

“This latest research highlights the need for employers to proactively manage mental health in the workplace by changing the organisational culture to be more open and supportive. EAPs are an important part of the mental health toolkit and can play a crucial role in addressing issues early before they escalate to a more serious level. We encourage employers to put in place an ongoing promotional strategy that showcases the services and support available to all employees through an EAP rather than it being seen as a safety net to help those when they have reach the point of being unable to cope,” said Neil Mountford, chair, EAPA UK.

EAP mental health enquiries on the rise

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

EAP mental health enquiries on the rise

Data from Health Assured shows that the number of mental health enquiries to EAPs by UK employees has increased by 31% since last year.

The figures released in September 2018, compare the first six months of 2017 with the same period in 2018 and show that mental health enquiries have increased more than all other advice calls, including those relating to work stress, relationships and general health, rising from 23% of all calls in 2017 to 36% in 2018.

The statistics are based on over 100,000 employee interactions with Health Assured’s EAP in the first and second quarters of 2017, and over 150,000 interactions in quarter one and quarter two of 2018.

Health Assured CEO, David Price, said: “Our statistics show that it’s important to build an open workplace culture regarding mental health from the top level down. This will involve educating all employees on mental health issues and regularly monitoring staff to see how they are feeling, whilst assessing how the workplace can be improved to support positive employee health and wellbeing. Employers should provide information on the services they have available to support staff, for example, confidential telephone advice or counselling.”

Neil Mountford, chair of EAPA UK, agrees: “Whilst it is encouraging that the statistics from Health Assured appear to show that more employees are seeking support with mental health issues, this should also be a call to action for employers to examine what they are doing at a more systemic level to build a workplace culture that promotes good mental health.”

CIPD launches revised guide on Mental Health for Managers

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

CIPD launches revised guide on Mental Health for Managers

The CIPD, in association with mental health charity, Mind last week launched a revised and updated guide for managers to improve support for those experiencing stress and mental health issues at work.

How people are treated and managed on a day-to-day basis is central to their mental well-being and engagement, as well as the level of trust in the employment relationship. CIPD research finds that management style is the second main cause of work-related stress, showing that how managers go about their role has a direct impact on people’s mental well-being.

The updated guidance follows recent CIPD research which found that less than one in three organisations (32%) train line managers to support staff with poor mental health. Mental ill health is now the primary cause of long-term sickness absence for over one in five (22%) UK organisations. A recent Mind survey of over 44,000 employees also found that only two in five (42%) felt their manager would be able to spot the signs they were struggling with poor mental health.

This latest resource for managers follows the Government-commissioned ‘Thriving at Work’ report last year, which made recommendations to employers about how to better support people with mental health problems to stay – and thrive – in their jobs. The independent report found a need for workplaces to improve the disclosure process, and called on employers to create an open culture where staff feel able to talk about mental health. The free guide will give managers the information, resources and tools they need to effectively and confidently support employee mental health at work. Being able to spot the warning signs of poor mental health and offer the right support early on can have a significant impact.

Rachel Suff, Senior Employment Relations Adviser at the CIPD, said: “The role of line managers in employee well-being is vital. They are often the first port of call for someone needing help, and are most likely to see warning signs of poor mental health among employees. With the right capabilities and tools in place, they will have the ability and confidence to have sensitive conversations, intervene when needed, and signpost to the right support when needed. The positive impact that this can have on people’s well-being is enormous, but the business will also reap the benefits of happier, healthier, more engaged and productive employees.”

Paul Roberts, EAPA executive member, said: “EAPA agrees that employers are increasingly taking steps to promote good mentally healthy workplaces. Our members report increasing numbers of SME employers buying Employee Assistance Programmes to catch up with the best practice employers in supporting employees. This managers guide is a great free resource.”

You can read the full guide here.

The rise of mental health apps

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

The rise of mental health apps

In recent years, there has been a huge rise in the number of mental health apps available. There are now hundreds of downloadable programmes and specific content aimed at those struggling with a range of mental health issues such as stress, depression, anxiety and addiction as well as those more generally promoting health and wellness.

Some of these apps claim to diagnose and help relieve symptoms. They have certainly become very popular with users, but how reliable is the advice they provide?

A recent article in Psychology Today highlights the issues citing research from the American Psychiatric Association that warns that self-diagnosing apps are unreliable and may overtreat. The Association has expressed concerns about the kind of advice and diagnoses being given and that these types of apps may lead to excessive self-monitoring without professional guidance.

The article also references a new study led by the Sydney School of Pharmacy, which has analysed 61 mental health apps. Of central concern was how the apps defined mental health and what they signalled as contributing factors to mental illness.

Andrew Kinder, executive board member of UK EAPA said: “The popularity of mental health apps shows the ongoing interest in this area which is helpful in that peoples’ concerns are now being articulated with support options being provided.  However, the efficacy of such apps, for example, who controls the data, the overdiagnosis of everyday stress issues and the over-reliance or placebo on smartphone apps, are clearly concerns which need to be addressed.

“Within EAPs, there is certainly a move to provide a greater breadth of mental health support, including within the digital space.  More can be done to keep EAP offerings modern and accessible, although the benefit of EAPs is that support is offered in many different forms, in person either face-to-face or telephone with clear clinical governance in place which checks their efficacy.”

Neil Mountford, chair of UK EAPA agrees: “Technologies such as mobile apps and web-based platforms certainly have a role to play in enabling wider access to information around mental health issues, particularly for those who are either anxious about seeking one-to-one support either telephonically or face-to-face, or do not have easy access to those services.

“The challenge in an unregulated environment is how the user can make an informed decision on which tools are best for them and contain content and approaches that are credible, clinically robust and backed up by research evidence.  The danger is that some will promote content and advice that is spurious and in some cases could do more harm than good.

“Good quality EAPs will use these technologies responsibly as components of an integrated suite that offers appropriate support, information and onward referral.”

 

The importance of promoting EAP services

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

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.”

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.

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.

 

UK EAPA welcomes NICE recommendations to improve employee health and wellbeing

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

UK EAPA welcomes NICE recommendations to improve employee health and wellbeing

 

The UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) welcomes the recently published recommendations from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) regarding ‘Workplace policy and management practices to improve the health and wellbeing of employees’.

 

“Achieving the focus on health and wellbeing in the workplace, as recommended in this latest NICE report, will help organisations to develop and sustain a strong workplace for the future. As outlined by NICE, promoting the health and wellbeing of employees is good practice and will enable employers to create a healthy and productive workplace, something that EAPs have been encouraging and enabling for many years,” said Andrew Kinder, chair of the UK EAPA.

 

“EAPs have a unique role in supporting employees to identify and resolve personal concerns and issues that may affect job performance. In tandem with the recommendations in this report, it’s important to consider the capability and expertise EAPs have to enable line managers to effectively support their people and equip them with the knowledge and confidence that’s necessary to support employees who are struggling with this type of issue.

 

“The opportunity to make management referrals to the EAP and also encouraging employees to make direct contact with their EAP too is an important factor in addressing the effect that a poor working environment – and its impact on mental wellbeing – can have on peoples’ lives,” he said.

 

To read the NICE recommendation in full, just follow this link.

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