Supporting employees' mental health makes good business sense

28 May 2019

The average British worker has taken five days off work due to mental health in the last 12 months, according to new research by recruitment specialist Michael Page.

This adds up to 163.5 million lost business days each year, demonstrating how important it is for companies to have a supportive mental health policy in place.

Mental health has a "huge impact" on businesses in the UK, said Sheri Hughes, UK Diversity & Inclusion Director at Michael Page. "Mental health problems can affect anyone, at any age, so it's vital employers invest wisely in mental health support and have systems in place to provide help to employees when they need it. Companies of all sizes have a responsibility to ensure the mental and physical wellbeing of their people, so if a mental health policy isn't in place, now is the time to devise and implement one."

Support for mental health can be easy to implement as it's often included as part of group protection policies (employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness).

While these policies are well-known for providing financial support when employees are unable to work due to ill-health or disability, they also increasingly offer additional support such as an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), fast-track access to counselling or other treatment for mental health, and bereavement support, explained industry body Group Risk Development (GRiD).

In fact, figures for 2018 show that mental health was the second most common reason for claims from group income protection, with 24.1% of claims being for mental health, just under the 24.5% of claims for cancer.

"Employers looking for mental health support would be wise to put investigating group risk at the top of their list," said Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD.

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