Increase in workplace mental health problems

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Employers can no longer afford to bury their heads in the sand when it comes to tackling the causes of stress and poor mental health for their employees

Over two-fifths (41%) of organisations have seen an increase in reported mental health problems (such as anxiety and depression) over the last twelve months, according to the annual CIPD Absence Management survey, produced in conjunction with Simplyhealth, due to be launched on Monday.

·      In 2009, only 24% of organisations reported seeing an increase in mental health problems during that year.
·      2015 is now the sixth consecutive year that levels have been over 40%, showing the problem isn’t going away.
·      Reported increases are most likely in large and medium-sized organisations, with 69% and 51% respectively showing rises. They’re also associated with long working hours and the extent to which operational demands take precedence over employee wellbeing.

The report also found the private sector particularly lacking in managing and supporting employees with mental health problems:

·      28% admitted they weren’t taking any action to support employees.
·      Just 32% currently offer a counselling service, compared to 70% of public sector organisations.
·      Only 21% said they were increasing awareness of mental health issues across the workforce as a whole, compared to over double that (47%) in the public sector.

Unfortunately, this year’s survey shows the number of reported mental health problems has increased for many employers and highlights why it’s so important that businesses make promoting staff mental wellbeing a priority. So what more can employers do?

“Manager training is crucial, as they are often employees’ first point of call for reporting an issue, but only 30% of organisations currently provide it. There needs to be a lot more focus on this going forward, as well as tailored support for line managers from HR and signposting employees to appropriate support. Employers also need to look at how well their corporate culture supports good mental health and employee wellbeing,” said Ben Willmott, Head of Public Policy at the CIPD, comments.

Corinne Williams, Head of Human Resources at Simplyhealth, continues: “If organisations are to reduce reported levels of mental health absence, we need to target the root causes of mental health problems in the workplace, rather than just the signs, and deal with issues as and when they arise. An effective employee wellbeing programme, which should include a confidential employee helpline, can help to ensure there is a positive culture towards mental health, and so this should be a priority going forward.”

 

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    AUTHOR

    Amelia Walker

    Editor – PA Life

    All stories by: Amelia Walker