The charity organisation Samaritans are challenging the UK to become better listeners by nominating 24th July as ‘The Big Listen’. They have seen how the knock-on effects of coronavirus have negatively impacted on people’s wellbeing. It was also found that those with pre-existing mental health conditions are likely to be affected the most.
Meanwhile the Royal College of Psychiatrists claim the cost-of-living crisis is also having a negative impact on emotional wellbeing. They state, “food insecurity, fuel poverty, debt and the loneliness and isolation that come with it, are a hard reality for millions of people”. Dr Adrian James, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, also highlighted that “those already living with a mental illness are more likely to suffer the consequences of the looming economic downturn, which will be felt for years to come.”
Psychiatrists describe the mental health crisis as the new pandemic and figures show that mental health referrals hit record levels of 4.3 million last year in England with a backlog of 1.4 million people waiting to start treatment, and that is just for those who have sought help.
1 in 4 of your team could be experiencing mental health issues
When you consider that one in four people will experience a mental health challenge each year, it is likely that a significant proportion of your workplace could be directly or indirectly affected. In fact, Silver Cloud suggest the three main causes of employee absenteeism or sickness at work are stress, anxiety, and depression. Furthermore, the impact of someone suffering with negative mental health can also impact those around them – at work and at home.
These statistics will not be a surprise and you will most likely have similar data in your own HR records. Our experience as employee benefit consultants mean we understand the importance of offering wellbeing support to all employees – firstly to prevent these issues occurring in the first place and then, when your teams do need support, ensuring you have the right systems in place.
Regardless of your sector or the size of your business, we can help develop appropriate mental wellbeing support via employee assistance programmes, occupational health, private medical insurance, income protection, and health cash plans, as well as flagging support available from other sources. We do not advocate a one size fits all approach and we can audit your current wellbeing strategy to ensure it is fit for purpose and is able to provide your staff support when they need it. Our consultants will ensure we recommend the right solution for your staff at a cost you can afford.
Line managers play a pivotal role
Of course, developing a robust employee benefit programme is just one part of the response to the mental health pandemic. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) emphasise employers should focus on prevention as well as providing effective support pathways for their employees if they become unwell. Organisations need to put in place a systematic framework, with tools to assess the main physical and psychological risks to people’s health, in order to target their activity where it is most needed. CIPD goes on to highlight a common thread running through almost every aspect of an effective wellbeing programme is the role that line managers play.
This is confirmed by the Mental Health Foundation, who state good mental health at work and good management go hand in hand. There is strong evidence to suggest that workplaces with high levels of mental wellbeing are more productive. By addressing wellbeing at work, productivity levels increase up to 12%.
Remember that if an employee is in a mental health crisis, it is unlikely they will find support from the NHS due to a £300m “black hole” in mental health funding. That is why Broadstone consultants are working with businesses who are keen to plug that hole by doing what they can to ensure their workforce is healthy, happy, and productive.