Why employees need mental health support

7th December 2018

We spend around a third of our lives working. If you add in overtime, travel to and from work, and time spent away from work, but thinking about it, we spend a huge portion of our lives connected to the workplace. What we do at work doesn’t stay there either. The interactions we have every day impact our health at work, and outside of it. Coupled this with technology making us always available, our boundaries are becoming ever more blurred.

Consequently, we have a responsibility to manage our mental health both inside and outside of the workplace. One way of doing so is to offer employee assistance programs (EAP) or safe places for employees to talk to trained and empathetic people who can help with work or personal issues. The goal is to manage those issues before they escalate into more serious mental health conditions.

I recently interviewed a psychotherapist working for an EAP in Central London, UK to find out her views on mental health support in the workplace:

  • What reactions do you receive from people coming to the EAP for support?
  • “People are generally really grateful to have been able to talk, to be listened to and for the in the moment emotional support and sometimes practical advice… to be met my an empathetic, trained counsellor at the end of the phone who is willing to give the person time (calls can range from 10minutes to over an hour!) can be so impactful and cathartic.
  • With what kind of problems do people approach you?

“Anxiety and depression are the most common issues. People are often feeling extremely overwhelmed and very tearful and frightened on the phone and often have been suffering for a long time… some people are feeling really overwhelmed directly in relation to work pressure or disputes happening at work.”

  • Are EAP programs widely publicized in the organizations in which you work?

“Another company I work for are signed up to an EAP and I had no idea about this until I started working for the EAP.” I imagine it [publication of workplace mental health support] varies depending on the organisation and how much of a priority the wellbeing of employees is but based on my personal experience in a job where I could access an EAP,  I don’t think it is publicised enough.”

  • What’s your view on offering employees one to one sessions with a business psychologist external to an organization to discuss issues people may be having? Maybe in conjunction with an EAP or instead of? 

“I love that idea. As a preventative approach rather than people getting to point of break down or having to be signed off sick. A lot of people coming through to EAP are at that point.”

“People spend most of their lives at work. Feeling overwhelmed in the workplace can have such an impact on someone’s ability to cope with the pressures of life generally outside of work. So I think a business psychologist working with people to help them with issues at work would have a massive impact on people’s overall mental health and health generally.”

Reflections on the interview

A recent article from Forbes magazine supports some of the views expressed in our interview: a senior employee (and sufferer of anxiety and depression) at HSBC believes the workplace has a role to play in managing mental health:

“Not only is there a huge human cost of poor mental health at work – looking after the mental health of employees is fundamental to business success… Employers have a significant role to play in prevention, both directly and indirectly. More specifically: Employers should provide their people with the knowledge, skills and tools they need to help prevent emotional, mental or physical illnesses.” Forbes

The right support is crucial and readily available

At Innovationbubble, we provide mental health support for employees through our ‘Off the chest sessions‘ (scroll to the bottom of the page to read more). These sessions give employees a safe space to discuss any issues that are causing them distress, either at work or at home. They adopt the preventative approach of helping employees to talk through issues that are causing them distress while they are at work before those issues become more serious.

Having such support available has been shown to result in a more positive employee experience and increased engagement, and ultimately more productive and happier employees.

To find out more contact us at Innovationbubble.

Image credit – Shutterstock

Author: Innovationbubble