How to Support Mental Health in the Workplace
Statistics from the Office of National Statistics show that there were 6,507 suicides registered in the UK in 2018, the first increase since 2013. The highest age-specific suicide rate was for males age 45-49 (27.1 deaths/100,000 population) and Scotland recorded the highest suicide rate for a country in the UK with 16.1 deaths/100,000 population). According to the Evening Standard, 661 people committed suicide in London last year, which was a 16.4% increase on the previous year.
So how can companies support the mental health of their workforces?
Many senior decision makers in companies now understand the importance of having a good health and wellbeing strategy, which supports both the physical and mental health of its employees. Having a good strategy in place not only supports individual employees, it also helps the company’s productivity, by reducing absenteeism. According to Employee Benefits Healthcare Research 2019 (published September 2019) 55% of the 202 respondents cited mental ill health as a cause of absence, putting it top of the list, alongside minor ailments such as colds.
Providing mental health support benefits in a health and wellbeing strategy can be achieved cost-effectively with very positive return on investment (ROI). For instance, companies may consider introducing an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) which gives employees (and their dependants) access to trained professionals 24-hours-a-day, with whom they can discuss their issues. A good EAP will also provide 5-6 face-to-face counselling sessions if and when required.
Many companies are providing Mental Health First Aid training to their employees and appointing Mental Health Champions within their organisations. Where practical, an increasing number of employers are introducing flexible working and/or home working, helping employees manage their often hectic work-life balances, reducing stress in the process.
It's encouraging to hear that many businesses are now introducing initiatives to support the positive mental health of their workforces, which will be beneficial to the employees, their families and the employers themselves.