Supporting employees’ mental health may not be as difficult as many businesses think, according to group risk industry body GRiD.
To mark Mental Health Awareness Week (13 – 19 May), GRiD has highlighted the non-financial support that employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness cover offers.
Mental health-related support can include an employee assistance programme, fast-track access to counselling or other treatment for mental health, and bereavement support.
Many employees are already benefitting from support for mental health via group protection.
Mental health is the second most common reason for claims from group income protection, with 24.1% of claims being for mental health – just behind cancer at 24.5%.
Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, said the employers that use group protection to support the mental wellbeing of their staff are the winners.
“What’s more, this support is usually funded by the provider, at no extra cost to the employer or the employee. Employers looking for mental health support would be wise to put investigating group risk at the top of their list,” she argued.
RedArc, the nurse adviser service, said employers also need to support employees’ recurrent mental health problems.
Big life events like divorce or redundancy can cause mental ill-health initially, but being overwhelmed or undervalued at work can lead to a recurrence.
“Some employees are able to completely stay on top of previous mental ill-health but for many, it can be an everyday battle or can fluctuate from time to time,” explained Christine Husbands (pictured), managing director for RedArc nurses. “The initial trigger may have been a major event but additional workplace stress or unforeseen changes to a job, can cause the problem to return.”
Some of the workplace triggers that could cause such a relapse include being given an unexpected new project/new remit; a promotion/being overlooked for a promotion; change of location – either a desk move or to a different site altogether; additional responsibilities, such as managing a new team; being given a new line manager; being excluded from decisions or teams; and long-term lack of gratitude from the employer.
“Mental health problems don’t always relapse but this Mental Health Awareness Week we’re asking employers to be vigilant that some staff may be battling ongoing depression or other types or mental health conditions on a daily basis,” Husbands added.