A rising tide of employee mental and emotional ill health is threatening to overwhelm employee assistance programme (EAP) providers, potentially transferring demand to already overstretched NHS provision, at least according to one provider of employee mental health support.
A combination of the cost of living crisis and the ongoing mental health fallout from the pandemic is resulting in “unprecedented” levels of mental ill health in the workplace, Wellbeing Partners has said.
Workplace EAP providers overwehlemed with the volume of employees experiencing mental health difficulties, it has warned. This is meaning many employees are having little option but to fall back on NHS mental health provision, which is also overstretched and increasingly difficult to access.
The warning was released to coincide with World Mental Health Day, which takes place today (Monday 10 October).
Lou Campbell, employee counsellor, wellbeing coach and programmes director at Wellbeing Partners, said: “In the past 18 months, the volume of HR professionals seeking an alternative to their overstretched employee assistance providers has increased at an astonishing level.
“Stories of employees being palmed off by their EAP on to an already overwhelmed NHS are something that we hear every day and fatigued HR teams are being called upon to support distraught employees who have nowhere to turn,” he added.
Employee mental health
Workplaces were increasingly turning to specialist counselling support and wellbeing coaching to try to cope with the demand for mental health support, Campbell argued.
“Mental health support is seen by the emerging generation of graduates as an essential part of the working environment. Good mental health support means your organisation can stand out to prospective employees and it increases the chance of retaining staff who might otherwise seek employment elsewhere if they do not feel supported when facing mental health issues,” she said.
The company is urging employers to use World Mental Health Day to reflect on their mental health provision and to work to ensure staff know they can open up about their mental health without being judged or penalised.
“It is in everyone’s interest that these issues are handled professionally and supportively,” Campbell added.