Major opportunity for employers to step up mental health support post Covid-19 says Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing

In Mental Health Awareness Week (18-24 May)[i], Cheryl Brennan Director of Corporate Consulting at Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing is urging employers to step up their workplace mental health services to support people returning to work post coronavirus lockdown.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development[ii] highlights mental ill health (such as anxiety and depression) is the number one cause of long-term employee absence. According to reports, mental health issues have escalated since the lockdown. A recent article in The Lancet Psychiatry[iii] highlighted the pandemic could have a “profound” effect on people’s mental health. In March, a poll by Opinium[iv] found almost half of UK adults said their mental health had been affected by the Covid-19 outbreak, and one-third were worried about the future.

A report from Karian and Box[v] found 27% of employees feel their organisation is not supporting their health and wellbeing during this crisis.

Cheryl Brennan says, “Lockdown is having a major impact on people’s mental health. People are fearful of catching the virus, many have financial worries and are facing job insecurity. Thousands of parents are juggling work and home schooling and furloughed employees may be anxious time too, as there is no guarantee their firm will take them back so they could be facing redundancy.

“With more businesses returning to work, there is a real opportunity for employers to step up their mental health support – to look at their existing benefits and consider if they could be doing more. There are so many affordable resources and apps available today to support mental health, which could help businesses enhance their benefits.”

Cheryl Brennan says,

“We recommend that when people return to work, employers need to signpost mental health support services to employees and encourage people to speak up about any issues they may be experiencing. There is major business case for prioritising mental health – if issues are not handled well, problems tend to escalate into absenteeism or costly claims for long term sickness.”

A report by Deloitte[vi] in January suggested that poor mental health cost UK bosses more than £43bn in 2018. That is an increase of 16% since the last estimate of £37bn in 2016.

Cheryl Brennan adds, “In Mental Health Awareness Week, we are calling on employers to increase the mental health and wellbeing support for employees – the companies that look after their staff now, when times are tough, will reap the benefits.

“Investing in robust mental wellbeing strategies will help people get back to normal more quickly, improving morale, motivation and productivity. In the longer term, it will boost engagement, loyalty and enhance future recruitment and retention.”

Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing offers Havensrock Thrive, a practical, discrete app for employees to monitor their mental health to help prevent and manage stress, anxiety and other common mental health conditions. This includes access to specialist mental health support, if needed, with a dedicated mental health nurse at RedArc.

For more information on Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing, please visit www.howdengroup.co.uk

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