Tag: employee benefits


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.


poor mental health at work

Financial insecurity contributing to poor mental health for UK workers

* A quarter of employees are struggling to make ends meet, less than half are satisfied with their current financial situation

* Two-thirds say mental health and wellbeing affected by personal job security (66%)

* 90% of young people say their mental health is affected by the cost of living

A national mental health at work survey, commissioned by Business in the Community in partnership with Mercer, has found that employees are struggling to deal with the demands and insecurities of the workplace and that financial insecurity is contributing to the national burden of poor mental health.

The survey of over 4,000 people, conducted by YouGov and run for the third consecutive year, exposes the relationship between personal finances and mental health, with two thirds of respondents saying their mental health and wellbeing is affected by job security (66%) the state of the economy, (65%) and the cost of living (77%).

Financial concerns caused three-fifths of respondents to say they had experienced negative mental health symptoms such as loss of sleep, stress, lack of concentration, and fatigue, with younger workers in their 20s bearing the brunt of job insecurity and low wages; 90% reported their mental health was affected by the cost of living.

Fewer than half of employees (46%) are satisfied with their current financial situation, and 56% of employees are reluctant to talk about money issues at work.

Employees were more likely to talk to their manager about general mental health issues (24%) than financial issues (14%) when given a direct choice. However, half still say they wouldn’t like to talk about either, and only 17% of employees believed that their employer supports those with financial difficulties.

Although most employees feel unable to talk about financial wellbeing and mental health at work, 85% of people managers saw employee wellbeing as being their responsibility. Meanwhile 68% of managers

believed that there were barriers to providing support for staff mental wellbeing, with training a key concern; 67% of line managers said they had not had any training on mental health.

Business in the Community is calling on organisations to do more to support conversations between staff and their line managers about all aspects of wellbeing, including financial.

Louise Aston, wellbeing director, Business in the Community, said:

“There is a two-way causal relationship between financial wellbeing and mental health, but very few employers support employees experiencing financial difficulties. Employers have a role in educating employees in financial literacy and signposting to appropriate sources of professional support.

“There is huge financial pressure on employees, with stagnant wages and living costs which continue to rise, so employers have an important role in educating employees in financial literacy and signposting them to appropriate sources of professional support.

“Although there has been slow incremental improvement of overall mental health at work over the past three years, collective and urgent action by employers is needed to build momentum quickly, taking a ‘whole person’ approach to physical, mental, financial and social health and wellbeing.

The report asks employers to take action to support financial wellbeing. They should:

* Integrate financial wellbeing into organisational health and wellbeing policies and be explicit about what’s available or acceptable within the organisation to people with financial issues. For example, pay advances, hardship loans, time off to sort financial issues, travel loans, access to EAP, money counselling or other support services.

* Offer financial education to improve employee financial understanding increase the use of existing benefits; making available salary deducted savings, in order to create a financial buffer; or offering salary-deducted lower cost loans to help employees who are in debt or have unexpected expenditure but no savings. Include awareness of financial issues in line manager employee wellbeing training and equip them with information about what solutions are available as part of the overall employee benefits package.

* Signpost colleagues (staff, line managers and HR) to organisations that offer free help and guidance on money issues such as Money Advice Service (general money issues), The Pensions Advisory Service (for pension specific issues and Step Change (personal debt counselling).

Wolfgang Seidl, Workplace Health Consulting Leader UK and Europe, Mercer Marsh Benefits said:

“For the health of the workforce to flourish, focus must shift from disconnected initiatives to approaches that address employees’ physical and mental wellbeing as one”, said Wolfgang Seidl, “Someone struggling to manage their income, may experience stress and sleep loss, leading to unhealthy comfort eating. They might not yet experience health issues and by encouraging a focus on financial wellness, employers can help prevent any from developing further down the line.

“Mental health has become such an abstract concept that it seems it cannot be treated, so a practical approach is important. Looking at the root causes, such as financial worries, harassment, lack of equality, lack of opportunities to exercise, and more, makes it easier to find ways to prevent and treat.”

Eve Read, UK Consulting Leader – DC & Individual Wealth, Mercer, added:

“Employers need to consider what workplace initiatives are required to support their employees’ financial wellbeing. Depending on the specific pain points experienced by employees company benefits programmes can be structured to drive positive change, by offering financial clinics, education sessions, personalised mobile communications on finances, savings options and debt management initiatives.”

Alongside the recommendations on financial wellbeing, The Mental Health at Work report asks employers to: * Talk – Break the culture of silence that surrounds mental health by taking the Time to Change Employers Pledge.

* Train – Invest in basic mental health literacy for all employees and first aid training in mental health to support line manager capability.

* Take action – Implement the practical guidance found in Business in the Community and Public Health England’s Mental Health toolkit for employers.

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