Businesses urged to put staff wellbeing at the forefront for World Mental Health Day

Date published: 09 October 2019

To mark World Mental Health Day on October 10, the UK’s association for Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) is calling on businesses to do more to make staff aware of what help is available to them, especially when it comes to mental health.

Eugene Farrell, chair of the Employee Assistance Programme Association (EAPA) – the research body which represents the interests of Employee Assistance Programme providers across the UK – says World Mental Health Day is the perfect time to remind businesses that they can and should be doing far more to make employees know that help is available to them through their employer.

Take-up of Employee Assistance Programme services by employees in the UK is alarmingly low. Only 5% of employees with an Employee Assistance Programme make use of it, despite the fact that nearly half of the UK’s workforce have an Employee Assistance Programme as part of their employee benefits.

Eugene says: “World Mental Health Day this year is about a very solemn topic indeed: suicide. With deaths by suicide having risen by 11.8% in 2018, this is something that every single one of us must take extremely seriously, and employers have a big part to play in that.

“A lot of the themes around this year’s World Mental Health Day are about taking time to reach out to those in need. We urge businesses to reach out to their staff by letting them know about any support that is available to anyone who is struggling with their mental health. We also urge employers to look at how their Employee Assistance Programme fits into the wider wellbeing strategy so that all elements of support are working together effectively to support employee mental health.”

Employee Assistance Programmes are designed to offer staff a range of support with issues they may be struggling with, including physical discomfort, financial problems and mental health, with the aim of boosting morale and wellbeing. EAPA’s research shows that a greater focus on mental health generally has been accompanied by a growing demand for support. The most common uses of an Employee Assistance Programme are for depression and coping with family events.

EAPA urges employers to look at what more they can do to encourage staff to take up and benefit from Employee Assistance Programme services.

World Mental Health Day is a perfect opportunity to build awareness and knowledge of how an Employee Assistance Programme can support staff.

Some ideas might include: 

  • An email to all staff to mark World Mental Health Day that contains a simple message about the importance of mental health and wellbeing and signposting to the Employee Assistance Programme and ways to access it.
  • Virtual posters on workplace sites/social media pages marking World Mental Health Day and advising staff as to how they can access support from their Employee Assistance Programme.
  • Host a series of informal meetings/talks on World Mental Health Day, advising staff of how they can access their Employee Assistance Programme.

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