Supporting mental health in the workplace

Awareness of mental health has increased hugely over the last 20 years with initiatives such as Heads Together helping to get people talking more about it.

Yet for many in the business world, it’s taken the physical health challenge posed by the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, as well as social distancing, to really bring mental health to the fore.

Unsurprisingly, recent studies have revealed that many individuals are suffering mental stress due to Covid-19. One international study has even found that one in two people in the UK felt down, depressed or hopeless about the future due to the Covid-19 crisis - putting a large proportion of the nation’s mental health at risk.

For those used to working in an office, the adjustment to working from home can be tough as it leads boundaries between their work and personal spaces to be eroded.  For those furloughed, the future may seem uncertain. For all groups, the lack of social contact with colleagues and/or friends is something that needs major adjustment (even if skipping the commute and having more time to exercise is a bonus).

With negative press stories abounding, it can seem hard for all of us to find things to look forward to and feel positive about.

So, what should employers be doing to help their employees right now?

There are many ways of supporting employees through the crisis, and all should stand your business in good stead once we move into the world after lockdown. Here are a few key ones:

If you’re providing your employees with Private Medical Insurance and you have mental health cover, they’ll be able to access mental health services which will be of use in helping them find balance during this crisis.  Encourage them not to delay getting treatment even if they’re reluctant.

Employee Assistance Programmes are there to lend a helping hand during times of crisis. Research we carried out in May 2020 found that 71% of our HR respondents believe these are one of the most useful benefits currently on offer to their employees.

Other online resources: organisations such as MIND and Mental Health UK have a lot of resources on their websites. Consider signposting these to your employees via an intranet or email so they know where to look as and when they need to. Business in the Community also provides a range of useful resources to help businesses support their employees’ mental health during Covid-19 and beyond.

The range of resources can feel overwhelming, and if you’re unsure where to start, we’d suggest breaking it down topic by topic. Here at Punter Southall Aspire, our Mental Health team have selected an aspect of mental health each month to focus on – sleep, stress, and financial wellbeing being just a few examples. Taking this approach can help you to direct your employees to the relevant benefits and resources, without giving them a feeling of information overload.

As a company, how you support your employees through this crisis will help define your reputation as an employer of choice in the future. And that is definitely something to look forward to.

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We’ll continue to monitor the latest issues in employee benefits as the Covid-19 situation carries on so that we can ensure you’re up to date with the most recent changes.

In the meantime, if there’s anything you’d like to discuss then please get in touch - we’d be happy to help. Our Coronavirus Resource Centre is also regularly updated with our latest insights and resources.

Posted by Steve Butler

Topics: Employee Benefits, Health & Protection

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