Figures from a recent study by Unum show the number of employees looking for support with mental health issues has increased significantly, with the largest increase in referrals coming from males aged 30 or under.
One in four people in England have been diagnosed with a mental illness in their lifetime (Thriving at Work: The Stevenson/Farmer review) and with just 5% of employees believing their employer is helpful when dealing with mental health issues, there is a definite gap to fill.
Campaigns in the media, along with the government’s recent announcement about a new series of mental health policies, have gone some way to raise awareness. They have also as decreased the stigma that still surrounds mental health, but there is still more to be done.
Encouraging open conversations about mental health, providing good working conditions and promoting a healthy work-life balance are all ways for employers to proactively support good mental health at work.
Mental health problems are the leading cause of sickness absence, so employers should ask themselves what plans they have in place when an issue occurs. If HR managers don’t have the time or skills best equipped to solve a mental health issue, one option is an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), which provides around the clock telephone counselling and an online help system.
Wellbeing is vital, and the provision of employee benefits that make a positive difference to employee wellbeing and happiness such as employee assistance programmes can provide the right initial support. This is provided through confidential counselling services and access to information that give employees support when they need it most. By offering an EAP, employees can seek help during the early stages of a problem, which can prevent it from turning into something more serious.