The Health Insurance Group has warned that stress in the workplace is making many of us turn to employee assistance programmes (EAP) as new data from Health Assured revealed the EAP usage figures from a sample of 9 million UK employees. People employed within the media (17% utilisation), NHS (11%), retail (11%) and public sectors (10%) accessed EAP services over the past year, indicating higher levels of stress when compared to other professions.
“It is reassuring that many forward-thinking employers are tackling stress responsibly through providing and promoting wellbeing solutions that provide access to trained counsellors and mental health support and advice. The links between poor mental health and poor physical health are well established, so by providing such support these employers are helping to support the overall health of their employees,” commented Brett Hill, Managing Director for The Health Insurance Group. “Employers should be praised for their investments in resilience training and wellness at work initiatives but more can still be done.”
According to the HSE, in 2015/16 stress, anxiety and depression resulted in 11.7 million working days which equated to an average of 23.9 days lost per case. The total number of cases of work related stress, depression or anxiety in 2015/16 was 488,000 cases, a prevalence rate of 1510 per 100,000 workers*.
In 2015/16 stress accounted for 37% of all work related ill health cases and 45% of all working days lost due to ill health*.
Continued Hill, “While support systems are in place attitudes and culture can sometimes seem less than compassionate which is why it is vital for employers to have an effective strategy in place, particularly for mental health and stress. If an employer understands their responsibilities then the right support can be provided with the appropriate sensitivity, avoiding potential liabilities if a business did get things wrong.”
The data from Health Assured also demonstrated that employee assistance programmes can make a difference to wellbeing. After using their EAP 60% returned to work, 64% showed improvement in their depression and 51% showed improvement to their anxiety.
“Employee wellness isn’t a simple fix but driven from the top and with an understanding of the importance of an holistic approach the improvements could be life changing. Firms need to show some bravery and openness when addressing the stigmas of stress and mental health,” concluded Hill.