Income Protection 

Insurers urge mental health awareness in workplace

Insurers urge mental health awareness in workplace

Mental ill-health is becoming a significant problem for UK employees, with approximately 7.5 million UK workers suffering from some form of mental health problems in the office, research has shown. 

According to a survey by healthtech provider Mynurva, 44 per cent of those affected do not tell their employer, worried it might affect their career progress or damage relationships with colleagues.

This is despite a growing number of UK employers offering support services alongside their employee protection packages, such as employee assistance programmes, whether this is group private medical insurance or group income protection.

The research, carried out among more than 2,000 UK adults, found 32 per cent had suffered mental ill-health in the workplace, but 37 per cent had never sought any professional help. 

Men were more likely to go it alone (42 per cent) than women (32 per cent) when it came to those who do seek help.

GP Dr Zain Sikafi, chief executive and founder of Mynurva, said: "Society is certainly taking positive steps forward in talking more and more about mental health, but evidently there is still much more to be done in a professional context.

"Stress, anxiety and depression significantly impact employees and their organisations, and so people must have the support and confidence they need to talk about their problems and seek the help they need."

This comes as research from workplace insurance provider Unum claimed 72 per cent of UK employees felt 'nervous, tense or edgy' at work. Unum carried out the research among 3,000 UK employees, 48 per cent of whom claimed they feel 'worn out' at least once a week.

The findings prompted Unum to urge employers to be aware of the early warning signs and to implement and communicate better early intervention measures to help support and protect their staff. 

Liz Walker, head of HR for Unum, said: "In our experience, if an employee is struggling to cope, early and focused intervention can help prevent a short term concern manifesting into a more serious illness.

"Employers and line managers can ensure they are in tune to signs that an employee maybe under stress, or suffering from mental ill-health, and provide appropriate support. Even simple steps such as reducing a workload, or ensuring the employee is aware of resources such as employee assistance programmes, can have a big impact."

Last year, the Prime Minister commissioned the independent ‘Thriving at Work’ report from 2017, which showed that a staggering 300,000 people lose their job each year as a direct consequence of mental health problems.

Furthermore, 91 million working days are lost in the UK every year due to people’s struggles with mental health at a cost to the national economy of £99bn a year.

simoney.kyriakou@ft.com

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