More Employees Than Ever Seeking Mental Health Support

In Business, Industry News, Mental Health by Stephen Ellis

More employees than ever are seeking help for mental health conditions, figures from Unum show.

According to the insurer’s data, two-fifths of people using its rehabilitation services are doing so to address mental health issues, such as stress and anxiety. In fact, of the individuals seeking help under Unum’s return to work scheme, the majority were doing so because of poor mental health.

The good news is that Unum’s data shows an increase in the number of workers seeking help for mental health conditions, with male employees aged 30 and under representing the biggest increase in referrals.

In total, men accounted for 57% of all cases utilising Unum’s mental health return to work support scheme.

Over 7,000 employees took advantage of Unum’s range of rehabilitation services in 2018. Furthermore, the insurer paid more than £42 million to group income protection claimants experiencing mental health conditions last year.

However, the data also shows that an increasing number of employees have been unable to return to work following this targeted support. In 2017, 70% did not return to work after completing a dedicated return to work scheme. In 2018, this figure rose to 74%.

A huge cost to UK businesses

Unum puts the cost of poor mental health on the UK economy at £99 billion each year. And with one in seven workers experiencing at least one mental health condition, the wellbeing of the UK’s workforce has never been a more important priority for employers.

Indeed, relevant research from the Mental Health Foundation has found that over two-thirds of male workers say that in the past year, they have felt so stressed they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. What’s even more worrying is that another third had experienced suicidal thoughts.

Speaking about the findings of the research, Unum’s chief medical officer, Dr Syed Zakir Abbas, said: “Decreasing stigma around mental health problems and better understanding of the benefits of early support could be contributing to more employees using our services – particularly younger men – which is a positive development.”

He added that early intervention can be “key” to supporting recovery, but suitable support services need to be (a) available and (b) taken advantage of by employees.

That’s why organisations need to do their utmost to support their employees. And, when you consider the benefits, it’s a win-win situation for everyone: both employees and employers alike.

The research from Unum does give us some startling facts which, at first glance, could be seen to be painting a bleak picture. But there is a positive in this with males under 30 seeking help, bucking the trend of the past where it was seen as a sign of weakness. Employers need to take note and create an environment where people don’t feel threatened when seeking help.

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.