Firms across East Anglia failing to offer mental health initiatives – Lovewell Blake study finds

Lovewell Blake HR manager Gemma Chapman. Picture: Lovewell Blake

Lovewell Blake HR manager Gemma Chapman. Picture: Lovewell Blake - Credit: Archant

Fewer than one in five employers are offering initiatives, such as counselling or stress awareness training, despite claiming to be more aware of worker mental health issues.

Although 84% of firms claim they are more aware of employee struggles with mental health than five years ago, research by accountants Lovewell Blake found less than 19% had counselling services in place.

The study also found more than a quarter of employers do not know where to turn for advice and support on staff mental health issues, while health problems and money worries were identified as the main causes of employee mental health issues – ahead of work-related issues such as job pressure and high workload.

Other major factors were considered to be marital issues (31%), bereavement (29%) and poor relationships with colleagues (27%).

The online survey sought to find how attitudes to staff mental health had changed over recent years, as well as to gauge what measures employers are taking to tackle the growing issue.

Gemma Chapman, HR manager at Lovewell Blake said: “On the one hand it is positive that awareness of employee wellbeing and mental health issues has risen, but this study also shows that many employers still have a long way to go in understanding how they can tackle the problem.

“It is estimated that more than 10 million working days are lost due to stress and mental health issues in the UK each year, costing employers and the wider economy more than £6bn.

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“So tackling the problem isn’t just a basic human duty – it makes good business sense as well.”

Some of the most common initiatives to tackle mental health issues included providing a staff room (65%), flexible working hours (45%) and medical insurance (27%).

Mark Harrison, chief executive of campaign group Equal Lives, said while there was more awareness of mental health things were still going in the wrong direction.

He said: “A large of people using foodbanks are no longer unemployed and are the working poor. If you are going to work and still unable to feed your family it is not good for mental health.”

He added it was important for businesses to have conversations with employees about working practices and what worked for mental health and what did not.