Employee Health and Wellbeing – Spotting the Signs of Mental Health in the Workplace

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It is a common fact that many people find it difficult to switch off after leaving the office. However, more people than you might realise are suffering from depression, stress, anxiety or other problems associated with mental health. 26% of employees take time off work due to stress, as almost 6 in 10 feel overwhelmed by their workload.

Whilst there also may be a stigma attached to these types of illnesses, which sometimes mean people often struggle to face up to them, and they can go unnoticed and things can gradually get worse. Employers can play a key role in addressing this stigma by actively promoting services that can help an employee through difficult times. Early intervention is key, if employers get it right they can typically cut the length of absence by 17%. A report commissioned by Unum also showed that people with mental health conditions reduced absenteeism by 18% when they had prevention and intervention services in place.

From an employer’s perspective, looking after employee health and wellbeing is key to productivity and engagement.

It is staggering how much mental health in the workplace has cost the UK economy.  In 2014 alone it cost an estimated £70 billion and data from the Office for National Statistics shows that sickness absence caused by stress, anxiety or depression had increased to 15.2 million days lost in 2013 up from 11.8 million days in 2010.

How can we support improved mental health in and out of the workplace?

  • Spot the signs – this includes being withdrawn, a loss of appetite, fatigue or being tearful.
  • Work/life balance – encourages employees to eat away from their desks and ensure they have a regular break and switch off from work at the end of the day.
  • Talk about their issues and concerns – the biggest barrier of all is being able to talk to others about their problems. Take your employee to one side and discuss things with them.

If they don’t want to discuss matters face to face, suggest accessing an Employee Assistance Programme or 24 hour helpline that can offer advice and support – like a Health Shield health cash plan. For employers, these are an excellent addition to ensure that all employees have instant access to the help they need, whilst striving to keep absenteeism as low as possible.

A health cash plan offers a range of benefits that can help an employer manage health and wellbeing in the workplace. As well as encouraging employees to look after their health, many of the benefits can assist employers in improving absence management. Allowing employees to take regular check-ups available through the dental and optical benefits can help detect the early signs of serious health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and mouth cancer. Similarly, a course of physiotherapy could sort out a musculoskeletal problem quickly while a call to an employee assistance programme could prevent someone going off sick long-term with a stress-related illness.

Health cash plans also offer great value for money, especially when compared to other products such as private medical insurance that can be much more expensive. Additionally, most employees will be able to claim at least once a year. Health cash plans are a highly valued benefit which help to drive up employee engagement and reduce staff turnover.

If you are an employer and would like to speak to someone about how a health cash plan from Health Shield can help improve the health and wellbeing of your employees simply complete our get in touch form.