• Richard Skeates

Effects of stress are debilitating and more widespread than Covid

Updated: Oct 9



The responsibility for supporting employee’s Mental Health and Wellbeing in “the new world” is one of business UK’s major challenges.


Covid prevention measures are all visible, 2/3 ply face masks, arrows on floors, sanitisers and signage. Mental support is much more nuanced, but the debilitating effects of stress are as widespread as Covid.


As if family, social and economic pressures were not enough, a significant proportion of the population remain in apparent Covid denial, much to the alarm of friends, and colleagues. Yet the pressure is there to return to work, to break out of furlough, to start earning and to avoid redundancy. Equally those continuing to work from home remain in isolation. Employee anxiety is building.


Equally, HR teams have also felt the strain, themselves running on overload, aiding a dispersed workforce, whilst initiating new or deeply revised business plans.

Employee Assistance Programmes and Cash Plans are useful tools for direct early intervention. They are also a low cost means of providing support for everyone in the workforce to value. A robust Health and Wellbeing strategy is a positive indication of an employers’ CSR and ESG duty of care, as employees tentatively come out of lockdown.

SME’s and larger Corporates are actively setting up virgin EAP and Cash Plan schemes in support of their workforce.


For existing policies, figures show a large increase in telephone counselling usage since March for health, financial and legal advice. Schemes for early prevention and early intervention also take some of the demand from local GPs and NHS services as they build up to strength.


The Health and Wellbeing Benefits industry is developing new products and bolt-ons to help scheme members deal with anxiety, and mental fitness. Counselling “in your pocket”, “on the go”, “in the moment”, is not new but is now flourishing and valued, making a real difference to employees. These can for the time being replace the ‘arm around the shoulder’ face to face support at work. It is potentially better, being delivered by a variety of skilled professional practitioners, at precisely the time it is needed, in the moment.


Direct Healthline help clients to build comprehensive Health and Wellbeing Benefit strategies with a focus on prevention and early intervention, particularly in respect of mental health. We actively signpost, explain, and promote benefits to employees, so that they feel and receive real value.