Wellbeing & Benefits

An analysis of calls made to EmployeeCare – Canada Life Group Insurance’s Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) has revealed that one in five (21%) calls made to the service in Q1 2015 were regarding mental health issues (anxiety, depression and stress).

While stress accounted for the largest proportion of these calls (43%) – and the number of calls regarding stress is up by 9% over the year – depression is the fastest growing mental health concern.  The number of employees seeking help for depression through EmployeeCare increased by 40% since Q1 2014, and was up by 63% compared to Q1 2013. Depression now accounts for almost a third (31%) of mental health related calls.

While plenty of focus is given to stress in the workplace, little is dedicated to depression – yet the rate of increase in calls about this condition suggests depression may overtake stress as UK employees’ biggest mental health issue.

The only mental health concern that has seen a reduction in calls is anxiety, with the number of calls relating to this falling by 11% in this period.

Calls to EmployeeCare Stress Depression Anxiety
% change in number of calls (annual) + 9% + 40% – 11%
% of total calls to EmployeeCare 9% 6% 5%
% of mental health related calls 43% 31% 25%

Based on calls data for Q1 2014/2015, provided by Capital Health and Wellbeing.

Use of Employee Assistance Programme visibly improves employee mental health

More than half (57%) of calls regarding mental health issues were work-related, and feedback from the Capita counselling team suggests an increased fear of redundancy is causing greater depression and anxiety among employees.  This shows the impact the workplace can have on employee health and wellbeing, which can also affect overall productivity.

However, appropriate support services provided by employers can help to reduce this negative impact. Those employees who sought the advice of EmployeeCare reported much lower levels of anxiety and depression once they had received counselling. 

In addition, 2014 figures show that more than half (58%) of those who were not at work when they first requested counselling support had returned to work by the end of the counselling.

Before counselling, 51% of users with mental health concerns believed they were coping poorly with their jobs. After receiving counselling, this proportion fell to just 5%, demonstrating the efficacy of workplace counselling services in promoting wellbeing and employee productivity.

Paul Avis, Marketing Director, Canada Life Group Insurance comments: “It is actually very positive news that only 1 in 5 of our calls to our EAP is mental health related, showing that our message- EAP is a work/life support service rather than a ‘you have to be broken’ counselling service- is getting through.

“However, when people do call on mental health issues the results need to be understood. The negative impact of stress on staff has been well documented, some would say overly so, but the analysis of calls to our Employee Assistance Programme suggests that depression is nearly as prevalent among UK employees. More importantly, the number of calls made about depression has shot up by 40% in the last year alone, and with fear of redundancy cited as a significant cause. It is clear that employers need to turn their attention to wider mental health issues, focussing not only on stress but also the effects of depression and anxiety.

“Employers have a ‘duty of care’ responsibility to their staff to do as much as possible to prevent work-related mental health issues from developing. It is also vital that they provide appropriate support should an employee need it.

“With the possibility of as many as one in six people experiencing a mental health problem in the course of a year I think that it is vital for employers to treat EAPs as a ‘must-have’ rather than a fringe benefit.  That is why we offer all employees (whether insured or not) free access to the EAP service for every organisation that has Group Income Protection with us.”

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