Mental illness affects 1 in 4 people, how can employers support

ladybusAccording the latest report by the government’s Chief Medical Office, Professor Dame Sally Davies, 1 in 4 people will suffer a Mental illness in their lifetime. Around 70 million working days are lost because of stress, anxiety and other mental health conditions each year, a rise of a quarter since 2009. Last year this amounted to a cost of up to £100 billion to the economy.

In her report, Dame Sally called on the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, the NHS watchdog, to weigh up the costs of allowing workers with depression or anxiety to be fast-tracked for treatment, however, this costs money which we know the NHS simply do not have.

Yes, NHS spending needs to increase from the current 13% of the budget that it spends on Mental Health care but employers can help prevent many work related stress disorders from overcoming their employees by ensuring that they have relevant systems in place first, and this may prevent conditions such as anxiety rearing themselves to the surface in the first place.

Of those employees receiving medical care from the NHS they say that it is good but is not the reason they work well. The reason they work well is because of their employer who supports them.

consultationAt Life Practice group of clinics we see many individuals sent to us by their employers looking for help with Mental illnesses such anxiety, depression, panic attacks, social anxiety and executive burn-out otherwise known as “adrenal fatigue”. When assessing these individuals we find that many of them have been on a slow spiral downwards for several months before they have sought help. The reasons behind their ill health vary from difficult relationships at work, feeling undervalued as an employee, lack of support, lack of self-esteem and confidence, lack of fulfilment, the list goes on. With others their illness has stemmed from an external source within their family such as bereavement, divorce or an ill family member requiring care.
We believe that employers could do far more to support their employees by offering Mental Health Awareness days and regular confidential Mental Health assessments via qualified external sources in order to combat this alarming rising figure.
They could also have in place a protocol for any of their employees struggling with their Mental Health by offering flexible working hours, or part-time working post-illness which could be a key way to prevent sufferers from having to take too much time off work.

Quite often anxiety and depression leaves sufferers feeling helpless, out of control and without any direction of how to get better. By offering a confidential service whereby our clients can talk openly about all areas of their lives, personal and working, we can then ascertain what areas are causing the imbalance and set about agreeing a goal and action plan. This may include helping them to approach their employer about their issues and worries and making suggestions of perhaps re-structuring their week in order to cope with the job at hand, identifying any areas of training that may be required and teaching them to communicate effectively with their team.

Jubilant BusinesswomanWith a plan of action, this offers the individual a feeling of control over the situation which immediately creates optimism for the future ahead. Professor Dame Sally, says that employers can make a significant difference to the health of their staff. “They can make it by actually talking about it, knowing how their people are, whether they have ill health, supporting them by giving them flexible working if they need it, by reducing stigma.”

With figures from the report stating that an estimated 60 to 70 per cent of people with common mental health disorders were in full time work suggests that no company in England is without this problem within their work force. Employers have a duty of care to their employees and must treat their mental health the same as their physical health.

The Life Practice runs clinics and Mental Health Awareness Days & Stress Management Workshops across the country: Brighton, Cambridge, Harley Street, Hitchin, St. Albans & Liverpool. Call our Head Office today to find out more information Tel: 01462 431112