Helping Employers Support The Mental Health Of Their Employees

In Industry News by Stephen Ellis

The first Wednesday in November each year is National Stress Awareness Day. It’s a great opportunity to take a moment to think about stress and the impact it has on our and other people’s lives.

Now we’re not talking about the everyday “stress” we feel when we’re under a bit of pressure. That’s a normal part of life. We’re talking about when someone is overwhelmed by stress, maybe in their place of work, and it leads to mental health problems or makes an existing issue far worse.

Workplace mental health issues are highly significant

According to the Health and Safety Executive’s Work-related stress, anxiety or depression statistics in Great Britain, 2019 report, there were 602,000 workers suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety (new or longstanding) in 2018/19. Furthermore, 12.8 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety.

Interestingly, three industries recorded higher than average levels of stress, depression or anxiety: Public administration and defence, human health and social work activities and education.

Workplace stress catalysts

While workload (44%), lack of support (14%) and violence, threats or bullying were cited in the HSE’s report as the three main causes of work-related stress, depression or anxiety, other factors are also contributing.

For example, the current economic and political climate – especially Brexit – is leaving many business owners and employees feeling stressed and unsettled with the uncertainty surrounding the entire situation.

Likewise, the ‘always on’ working culture that many firms seem to have adopted means many employees feel obliged to be contactable and responding to emails and phone calls even out of hours. Receiving a negative email or being notified about a tight deadline can really spoil an employee’s evening and affect everything from their sleep to their relationships with other people.

Employer support is crucial

While some of the stigma surrounding mental health issues has been removed in recent years, and more employees feel they are able to discuss such problems, an open and honest workplace culture is a must. Employees should be encouraged to open up about any problems they are facing and line managers should be trained to recognise the early signs of mental health issues.

The good news is there are a number of benefits that employers can offer to promote better workplace mental health, including:

Other services also include:

  • Flexible working
  • Employee Assistance Programmes
  • Discounted gym memberships
  • Mindfulness training

There’s no silver bullet when it comes to combatting mental health issues, but adopting a multi-layered support strategy is definitely a step in the right direction.

The figures truly speak for themselves and we can all see there’s a problem. But what is the solution for a typical SME? Some of the larger SMEs have a HR function with clear pathways, but what about those where this does not exist and pressure is placed on the owner/manager.

This cries out for simple solutions where the employer is guided through prevention, as well as treatment. At Premier Choice we have a number of solutions where a return on investment can be evidenced.

Stephen joined Premier Choice in 2006 as a Group Risk consultant and became Head of Group Risk in June 2013. In December 2017, Stephen also took over responsibility for the Protection division within Premier Choice and works to grow this in the same way he has the Group Risk division. Protection is a specialist area and fits well with his experience and expertise in the group risk market.