Posts Tagged ‘mental health’

Getting evidence on good mental health ROI

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

Getting evidence on good mental health ROI

While support for employee mental health and wellbeing generally has become the norm, there’s still a lack of hard evidence of ROI – limiting investment and making the HR approach look woolly. We’ve reached the stage where depression and anxiety is talked about, out in the open rather than dealt with behind closed doors, and people are more able to be people, not forced to adopt a rigid employee persona.

According to the Government’s Thriving at Work report, the cost of poor mental health among employees is costing employers between £33 and £42 billion. UK employers bear much of the burden of the costs of ill-health in general, chronic disease and incapacity, and HR need to have a better grasp of which particular interventions help them mitigate against these costs. In other words, talking about new attitudes to mental health, providing yoga sessions and free fruit, may feel the right thing to do, but there need to be hard numbers on Return on Investment.

There’s been some research on the ROI of some workplace health interventions over the last 30 years. But much of it originates in the USA where employers bear significant healthcare costs and have a direct financial interest in improving workforce health and promoting early intervention. The more reliable research includes a study by the large US insurance firm insurance firm LifeSolutions which found a return of between $5.17 and $6.47 (in terms of increased work productivity) for each dollar spent on the EAP. An academic study involving work with the Australian Fire Service found that mental health training for managers led to real impact on work-related absence and an ROI of £9.98 for each pound spent; while the Government’s Thriving at Work highlighted a significant return for employers investing in mental health interventions: an average of £4.20 for every £1 (with a range up to £9).

And while EAPs are the most commonly used workforce health intervention in the UK with close to half of the workforce (a total of almost 14 million) having access, very few providers or employers are able to collect systematic evaluation data beyond ‘take-up’ or utilisation statistics and satisfaction surveys. To help bridge this gap, EAPA launched the EAP calculator in October last year. Independently developed by the Institute of Employment Studies (IES), this new tool can be used by HR professionals to estimate the value of their EAP investment. Since the launch, there are now 529 users with the average return on investment calculated at £10.44 per £1 investment.

The more the calculator is used, the richer the dataset becomes. In turn this data can be used to revise and update the methodology, building the rigour and realism of the figures put forward to senior executives in boardrooms. There’s then a clear basis for investment in more specific mental health initiatives for employees. And over time, as the UK dataset grows and the anonymous data is collated and analysed, there is the detail needed for organisations and HR teams to benchmark returns and value against comparative employers in their sector and region.

The web tool available here and is available to everyone. We encourage EAPA members to try the EAP calculator and share with their clients to help build the data available. The full calculator has more detail, variables and greater intricacy and can handle employers with over 15,000 employees. Plans are underway to make the full calculator available in the coming months and we will keep members updated as this progresses.

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.”

40% of GP appointments now involve mental health

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

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

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

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

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

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.

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