Employers urged to boost mental health protection

Employers urged to boost mental health protection

Employers and workers are being urged to take out protection products to cover mental health problems, which cost the economy more than £70bn a year.

At the start of Mental Health Awareness week, providers are encouraging employers to provide their staff with greater support in the workplace, both in terms of discussing their problems and offering insurance plans that can help them along the road to recovery.

Recent research from the Chartered Institute of Professional Development (CIPD) found that as many as one in three employees experience a mental health problem at work.

Yet the issue continues to be neglected, with separate research by mental health charity Mind revealing just 5 per cent of Britons who had required time off work due to mental illness actually admitted the reason for missing work.

Drewberry director Tom Connor said: “Facing up to these statistics raises important questions about how employers can promote wellbeing and good mental health in the workplace, and whether the millions of British sufferers can do anything to mitigate the potential financial impact of a mental illness.”

Mental health problems cost the UK economy around £70bn per year in lost working days, productivity and healthcare, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Employers can take out group health insurance plans and group income protection policies to help those with mental health problems, while income protection products are available to support individuals who are unable to do their jobs due to medical conditions.

Shaun Subel, strategy director at Vitality, said: “Companies are increasingly aware of the effects of poor mental health on work performance and wellbeing and are putting measures in place to counteract the ill effects of stress and low morale. 

“Almost 60 per cent of companies provide stress management information and around a third of companies offer mental health awareness training and stress management programmes.

“But despite growing awareness of the importance of mental wellbeing in the workplace, better communication and convincing support from leadership is needed to inform employees about the initiatives they can take advantage of to help reduce stress and improve morale.”

Jon Blackburn, clinical and rehabilitation services manager at Aviva, added: “Well employees are more likely to be engaged and productive employees. 

“Providing your staff with immediate access to support services like employee assistance programmes, particularly if they’re experiencing anxiety or depression, reduces the risk of them taking time off work which has an impact on them, their families and your business.

“Employee assistance services are extremely valuable, offering support to people in all areas of their lives, whether it’s pressure at work, a relationship breaking down or money worries.”