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Wellbeing & Benefits

An analysis of calls made to EmployeeCare – Canada Life Group Insurance’s Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), provided alongside Group Income Protection products – has revealed over a quarter (28%) of calls made to the service between January and May 2016 were regarding mental health issues (anxiety, depression and work-related stress). This is an increase of five percentage points compared to the same period in 2015.

Work-related stress is the fastest growing mental health concern, with the number of calls rising by almost two fifths annually (37%). However, anxiety is the most prevalent mental health issue: nearly half (45%) of all mental health calls were regarding anxiety and the number of calls seeking help for this has risen 15% year-on-year.

Depression is the only type of mental health concern to have seen an annual reduction in calls. The number of calls regarding depression fell 4% in the period January – May 2016, and now represents 26% of all calls about mental health compared to 31% a year earlier. It could be that more efforts are being made to tackle depression in the workplace: however, there is also the possibility that fewer people are seeking help for this issue.

Use of an Employee Assistance Programme visibly improves mental health

While calls about mental health concerns may be on the rise, the counselling and support services provided by an EAP are proven to significantly reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.

By asking a series of questions based on the Goldberg methodology1 both before and after a course of counselling, counsellors revealed that the proportion of employees experiencing feelings of anxiety fell 45 percentage points after counselling (from 73% to 28%).

Similarly, 66% reported feelings of depression before counselling, which fell to 23% afterwards.

Crucially, of those who were not at work when they first requested support, 66% had returned to work by the end of the counselling. Earlier research from Canada Life Group2 reveals over four in five (82%) employees agree getting back to work as quickly as possible after an extended illness or injury would be important, with 62% of these saying they would need to return to have an adequate income.

Paul Avis, Marketing Director at Canada Life Group Insurance comments: “EAPs are a valuable additional service, as staff can benefit from them on a daily basis without having to be at the stage of making an insurance claim. Often used as a work/life support service, EAPs are also essential when it comes to supporting staff with mental health problems. The negative impact of stress at work has been very well documented, yet employers often don’t know how to respond. It is clearly not an issue that is going away, with a significant annual uplift in the number of stress-related calls.

“Anxiety perhaps receives less attention than stress, but it is clearly a prevalent issue, representing nearly half of mental health related calls. In its most severe form, anxiety can be incredibly debilitating and detrimental to an employees’ physical and mental health.

“Employers are no doubt aware of the impact of mental health in the workplace and have a duty to prevent these issues from happening as much as possible. EAPs are an effective way of stopping mental health issues from taking hold, and providing support if they do occur. It is for this reason that EAPs should be considered an essential rather than ‘fringe’ benefit. We offer free EAP access to every organisation that has a Group Income Protection policy with us and we cover all UK based employees: whether they are insured or not. This enables organisations to actively promote the positive work/life aspects of the service as well as supporting those in times of need.”

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