Adviser urges employers to act on mental health

Adviser urges employers to act on mental health

Employers are being urged to tackle mental health issues in the workplace to reduce a growing cost to businesses.

Protection adviser the Health Insurance Group (HIG) stated metal health problems in the UK workforce cost employers about £35bn per year.

To tackle this rising coat, it stated, employers should address five key areas in the workplace to get on top of their mental health agenda.

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These include setting up robust exit interviews to establish where and how a talent-leak is happening.

The group warned working in a demanding role, for a difficult manager, or operating in a bullying culture could all be stressful scenarios that take their toll on mental health and make staff leave an organisation.

By measuring and monitoring data, and combining it with other information such as sickness and absence rates, the mental health landscape in an organisation can be better understood and tackled, The Health Insurance Group stated.

Businesses should also avoid making assumptions about generational differences, according to the company.

It referred to a report from 2017 by the organisation Business in the Community, which found younger people were more likely to be formally diagnosed with a mental health condition than people in their 50s.

Mental health training should also be provided, HIG stated.

While this training comes at a cost, the returns can outweigh the initial investment with an estimated 'return on investment' of 6:1, according to the adviser.

Employers can offer mental health support through employee assistance programmes (EAPs), which provide confidential telephone or face-to-face counselling for a range of stress-inducing issues, the group added.

Employers should adopt effective methods of communication to raise awareness of any new mental health initiatives including emails, posters or intranet.

Lastly, businesses should focus on prevention rather than cure, HIG stated.

This may be achieved through company-sponsored mental health apps to engage employees in gamified activities including cognitive behavioural therapy where workers can manage workplace stress before it escalates.

Brett Hill, managing director of The Health Insurance Group, said: "With a sixth of the working age population having a mental health condition at any one time, tackling mental health in the workplace is at the forefront of many business agendas. However, these needn’t be costly exercises.

"HR may already be sitting on a wealth of data that can be analysed to reveal the true mental health landscape in their organisation.

"Reviewing existing benefits that support mental health can also aid engagement. With so many interventions available, from impactful managerial training to apps that support employees daily, there are plenty of options available to help organisations best support the mental wellbeing of their staff."

A spokesperson at wealth management provider Quilter, said: "HIG is absolutely right that we should focus on training, communication and prevention, which is why Quilter launched its Thrive well-being strategy.

"We provide employees with a range of information, services, and tools to enhance their awareness and personal well-being and mental health, and create a champions network who will promote and engage people, and help us understand what else they need.