Tag: CBT


Workplace mental health improved by counselling

70% of EAP users needed help with mental health problems last year

Of the 70% of employees with mental health problems last year, 92% of them reported that their condition improved as a result,  data has revealed.

Employee benefits provider Unum’s first ever publication of its user records also indicated that of the 12,610 callers to its EAP service in the space of a year, 60% of the 70% encountering mental health problems were offered counselling and 97% were offered an initial appointment within five days.

A total of 17,335 counselling sessions were provided between 1 December 2016 and 30 November 2017.

Better support

“We took the decision to analyse and release these figures to increase awareness of the invaluable support that’s available to hundreds of thousands of UK workers,” said Ambika Fraser, head of propositions at Unum. “We’re committed to reducing the stigma around mental health concerns and hope the high success rates will encourage more to seek help when they need it.”

Of the mental health sufferers who called, anxiety and depression were the most common reason (66%), followed by problems caused by relationship issues (13%) then bereavement (9%).

“EAPs are a first line of defence for employers and line managers in protecting the wellbeing of their staff,” said Fraser. “They provide fast, confidential solutions to all kinds of problems from mental health to debt and relationship worries that could otherwise quickly escalate and impact productivity.”

Social service

Of the 12,610 calls, more than fifth of people (22%) wanted help with a problem serious enough to affect their performance at work, while 14% of users wanted help with legal problems and another 14% sought support for practical problems such as caring responsibilities. Of the users, 58% were women.

“We live in an interconnected world where well-being is mental, physical and financial. You can’t address one without supporting all,” added Fraser. “With one in four people in the UK suffering from a mental health issue this year, it’s now more important than ever to support employees total well-being.

Enhanced engagement

As well as via phone, online support was accessed 74,607 times by employees downloading information on issues such as mental health issues, money and relationships.

The findings come after the government’s recent independent review of mental health which recommended that all employers with more than 500 employees should provide tailored mental health support, including through EAPs.


Reasons employees don’t always use Employee Assistance Programmes

There are four reasons why employees don’t use EAP’s  and I’ll list them in the most-frequent order:

  • they don’t think it’s confidential
  • they feel there is a stigma for reaching out for help (especially for some men, who see this as a weakness)
  • they think they have to ask permission from their boss or HR
  • they don’t know it exists.

One of the main reasons that employees don’t use Employee Assistance Programmes is because they worry it might affect their position at work. They worry that getting in touch with a counsellor at an EAP will mean they become exposed.

At Headscience – every employee using the service is kept completely confidential. An employee contacts a phone number associated with Headscience and their name is never used on documentation, only a case number is used. Some statistics do get back to the employer but even this data is confidential as employee’s names are never used.

Second, it makes sense to reassure employees that every one of us has similar on and off-the-job struggles.  It’s no sin for people to reach out for help when the “allostatic load” (repeated stressors) gets piled too high and deep.

Third, just as the use of EAP is confidential, there is no need for employees to tell anyone, ask permission, go through HR channels, or do anything other than call the EAP phone number and make an appointment.

The last one puzzles me the most – often employees aren’t even aware that an EAP service exists. Headscience hopes to curcumvent this by doing regular workshops to make employees aware of our services.

Employee Assistance Programmes can make a huge difference to a company’s productivity and profit if they have happy staff.


digital technology

The impact of digital technology on psychological treatments

The treatment of mental health is looking at a whole range of changes going forward. The widespread access to digital technology has seen the creation of many online mental health platforms to enable accessibility to employees and increased engagement. The great majority, currently, of digital mental health platforms offer information and resources along with self help therapy. Many of the online platforms have been developed from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy but are limited and far less responsive than real-life therapy with a skilled CBT therapist.

Mental health online platforms often have a large educational component than counselling with a trained therapist. Indeed, some interventions present themselves as educational programmes rather than treatments, and deliver the intervention in “lessons”, not “sessions”. They vary in the extent to which they retain the strategies and procedures of the original treatment. The interventions also vary in their structure. Some are linear, progressively leading users through the intervention step-by-step, whereas others have a variety of modules which may be used with partial or total flexibility.

Research findings:

  • Direct-to-user digital treatments are popular and can access underserved groups. A leading example is MoodGYM, a free online intervention for depression that has been available since 2001 () and has been used by over three-quarters of a million people.An important shortcoming of direct-to-user interventions is that completion rates are low if there is no accompanying support. Certain forms of psychopathology may prove to be more amenable to direct-to-user treatment than others. The eating disorders bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder might be particularly suitable as binge eating is a repeated highly aversive experience which responds well to self-help interventions () yet many sufferers do not seek treatment because of the associated shame and secrecy ().
  • Online clinics can faciliate easier collection of statistics. Clinically relevant change can be monitored on a large scale.
  • Supported digital interventions are more effective than unsupported ones. It is generally thought that the explanation lies in better treatment adherence in the presence of support ().
  • When accompanied by support, digital interventions are as effective as face-to-face treatments. This is the conclusion drawn by several systematic reviews and meta-analyses (e.g., ).  It would not be surprising if it emerges that different forms of mental health issues (eg.anxiety/depression) respond differently to the two forms of treatment delivery.
Not surprisingly, many important questions have yet to be answered. Here are some examples.
First, as there have been few head-to-head comparisons of different digital interventions for the same mental health problem, it is not clear which ones are the most effective ones nor is their relative cost-effectiveness known ().
Second, it is not known whether the functionality of a digital intervention has a bearing on its effectiveness.  The nature of the psychopathology being addressed may also need to be taken into account when designing interventions; for example, users with depression may struggle to complete interventions which require sustained concentration. In addition, there is a need for research on how these interventions work; who is accessing them; who benefits most; and whether the changes last. Also, more needs to be known about any negative effects of digital treatment ().

Autonomous and supported digital treatment

The most scalable way of providing a digital treatment is without support (“autonomous digital treatment”) but, as noted earlier, the provision of support improves outcome.There are many ways in which the support can be delivered. It can be via brief face-to-face sessions as exemplified by the use of supported self-help in the treatment of eating disorders () or it can be via telephone or videoconferencing.

Blended digital treatment

The concept of “blended treatment” is a new one. Generally, it refers to face-to-face treatments which include a digital intervention or component () although the clinician involvement need not be literally face-to-face; for example, it could be via telephone or videconferencing. Blended treatment is gaining in popularity, a particularly early adopter being the Netherlands ().

Global mental health innovators have attempted to address two major barriers to reduce this gap, viz. their low acceptability due to contextual differences between the settings in which psychological treatments were developed and those in which they are to be used, and their low feasibility due to the lack of mental health professionals to deliver them (). This body of research has shown that psychological treatments are effective in widely different cultural and social contexts even when delivered by people with little or no prior mental health training (). However, there remain two significant barriers: the continuing reliance on face-to-face formats for training and supervision, and the low demand for mental health care in formal health care settings, not least due to the high levels of stigma attached to mental health problems. Digital technologies offer a genuine opportunity to leap-frog both barriers.

While the “digital divide” undoubtedly remains a problem, particularly in low-resource settings, the divide is closing and there is no reason to think that this will not continue. Digital interventions that can be used without support are of particular importance as they have enormous potential to improve access, and additionally they have the value of being inherently empowering. They need to be optimised and “task sharing” needs to be expanded to embrace digital self-help. National and international organisations concerned with mental health need to endorse and support digital technologies as they are likely to be transformative.

Above all, the international psychological treatment community must strive to engage digital entrepreneurs and innovators, particularly those who are championing initiatives in global health, to partner with them to exploit the many opportunities for using digital technology to transform mental health care worldwide.

mental health stats workplace

Mental health statistics in the workplace

Awareness of mental health and how it impacts every other area of life is growing. Not only in hospitals and schools but also in the workplace. It’s common sense that happier employees will be more loyal, take fewer sick days and will be more focused and productive at work. Research confirms that mental health support at work is the way forward. Life is stressful, there are so many daily pressures and those fortunate employees that have an outlet will be the ones that can ‘reset to zero’ and get back to the job at hand.

Mental Health Statistics

  • 16% of UK employees called in sick because of stress in 2012/13 (Friends Life research, October 2013)
  • £460m – daily cost to employers in wasted wages due to sickness resulting from stress (Friends Life research, October 2013)
  • 19.9% – percentage of long-term absence caused by stress-related mental ill-health and home or family issues. (Group Risk Development, 2012 Employer Research )
  • 47% – percentage of UK employees with access to an EAP (UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association, EAP Market Watch , published in July 2013)
  • 10% – average percentage of a workforce that will use an EAP, including online services (UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association, EAP Market Watch , published in July 2013)
  • As many as 42% of employees call in sick claiming to be suffering from a physical illness when the real reason is a mental health issue, according to a report by health insurance provider BHSF.
  • The report, Hiding in plain sight: mental health in the workplace, published in September 2018, surveyed 1,001 full-time employees. The study found that over half of respondents (56%) suffered from stress, a third (36%) from anxiety and a quarter (25%) from depression.
  • Only 15% of respondents said they would tell their boss if they were struggling with mental health issues. Reasons for not divulging problems include fear of not being promoted, the information resulting in poor grading at assessment and being seen as a weak link in the team.
  • Nearly two-thirds (63%) of employees felt that mental health was stigmatised by either all or some of their colleagues.

Dr Philip McCrea, chief medical officer at BHSF, said: “The scale of this problem is huge, and it is being massively underestimated by employers, with employees feeling that they have to mask the issues they are facing.

“Although shocking, these findings don’t surprise me. This report must provide a reality check for employers who need to be more proactive and focus on early intervention. A more open culture must be created in workplaces across the UK, and employers have to take responsibility for this change.”

  • As many as 88% of respondents said work was either the main cause or a contributing factor to their mental health problems. However, only a fifth (21%) of employees received dedicated mental health support from their employer.
  • The average employee takes 8.4 sick days each year due to a mental health problem, according to the BHSF report.

Dr McCrea said: “Mental health is currently costing the UK economy billions, and the cost of non-intervention is far greater than the cost of intervention. It’s up to employers to take a proactive approach to managing mental health in the workplace before it’s too late.

“Developing early intervention strategies is critical. This includes the provision of mental health first-aiders, providing adequate mental health training for managers and resilience-building for employees, among other things.”

  • A fifth (20%) of employer respondents organise counselling for their employees in order to support staff mental health, according to research by insurance organisation Aviva and the British Chambers of Commerce.
  • Their survey of 1,020 UK organisations also found that 35% of respondents provide flexible working options to help support employees with potential mental health problems.

The research also found:

  • 36% of respondents review individual workloads to help support staff with their mental health, while 18% train managers to better support employees.
  • 49% of respondents do not access occupational healthsupport for their staff from external bodies, and 10% are not aware of any available support.
  • 29% of respondents have seen an increase in the number of employees taking time off work for mental health reasons.
  • 33% of respondents have observed an increase in the length of time employees are taking off work because of mental health issues.

Adam Marshall , director general at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “As the world of work changes, it is absolutely crucial for business leaders to pay ever closer attention to the health and wellbeing of their employees, especially at a time when firms are facing severe challenges finding and retaining the skilled staff they need.

“While legions of [organisations] are now more aware of mental health concerns and acting accordingly, far too many businesses are still turning a blind eye to this issue, which saps productivity, morale and individual wellbeing. Our message today is that it is no longer acceptable for [employers] to ignore mental health in the workplace, and all [organisations] need to step up [its] game.”

Dr Doug Wright, medical director at Aviva, added: “It is encouraging to see that more businesses are not only more aware of the topic of mental health in the workplace, but are also actively offering initiatives like flexible working options to help encourage a healthy work-life balance.

“It is, however, worrying to see almost a third of businesses have seen an increase in people taking time off for mental health reasons, and [while] some of this increase may be down to staff feeling more able to discuss the issue of mental health which is, in itself, good news, it also suggests that more can be done to help.”

Options for support

Thankfully, there are a number of options that can help support employees. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that helps people manage their problems by changing the way they think and behave. CBT is most effective for conditions where anxiety or depression is the main problem. Many employers now recognise the benefits of online  CBT techniques. These tools are suitable for those with mild to moderate stress, anxiety and depression.

Happy and healthy employees are the driving force behind every successful business. But if employers don’t provide their staff with the right training, support and tools, absenteeism is likely to become a growing concern.

Creating a culture of health is vital to an organisation’s success. Employees who feel that the employer they work for cares about their overall health and wellbeing are more likely to be motivated, engaged and are less likely to leave. Educating employees to ensure they are comfortable accessing self-help tools or calling helplines is also vital.



Source: employeebenefits.co.uk