Posts Tagged ‘Mental health at work’

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.

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

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

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.

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