Monday 9th May 2022 marked the beginning of Mental Health Awareness week; the theme this year, is loneliness. In a 2021 government wellbeing survey, 6% of respondents (approximately 3 million people in England) said they feel lonely often or always . Although this may largely be down to previous lockdowns and restrictions during the covid-19 pandemic, it is a stark reminder that people need people, and it needs to be better understood that we all have a part to play in reducing loneliness within our families, communities, and workplaces.
There are many reasons that someone could come to feel lonely. It may be that they are single and living alone, living with a long term condition or disability; or even being aged between 16 and 24 (people aged 16-24 in the survey  were more likely to say they feel lonely often/always (11%) than every other age group (3-7%)). The lonelier that people feel, the greater risk they face of suffering with their mental health.
It is fair to say that most people will have felt lonely at some point in their life, either from missing loved ones that they have needed to spend time away from, the longing for freedom and social interaction during the lockdowns, or even from working in a job that simply is not the right cultural fit. This is one of the reasons that we all need to become the reason. Be the reason that someone reaches out and asks for help. Anyone can share thoughts and resources on social media, and we can all encourage open and honest conversations with our family and friends, too.
But where do employers fit in all of this? As a matter of fact, many people would look to turn to their employers and colleagues for support with their mental wellbeing, if they thought they could. Evidence suggests that 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions . So surely, stepping in to prevent these sick days by offering support before employees get to the stage of needing a cure rather than prevention, is beneficial for all parties.
Many employee benefits are available today not only to offer discounts on shopping, life assurance and income protection; but also to help employees when they are at their most vulnerable. The people are the most important asset within any company, and so having wellbeing benefits at their disposal when they need them for both physical ailments and mental health complications, is so important.
Free, confidential support that can be accessed both during the day and outside of normal working hours, is a tool that is ultimately priceless if it means that someone reaches out for help in their darkest of days, rather than feeling that they have to suffer alone. Not only is an Employee Assistance Programme recognised by employees as a valuable benefit, but, if chosen carefully, one that can offer a good return on investment for the employer. Its core objective has wide-reaching implications, not least, to help address the growth in mental wellbeing and personal issues that many people are facing today. Implementing the right programme that suits your workforce is key, and that’s where the consultancy approach from Broadstone, could really help you on your way to a happier and healthier workforce.
Join the mentalhealth.org.uk conversation on social media, be the reason someone reaches out and help fight the stigma surrounding loneliness with #ivebeenthere.