The theme of World Mental Health Day 2017 is mental health in the workplace. While a lot of progress is being made to remove the stigma surrounding mental ill health, employers can be at a loss as to what to do next. Many may be aware of the support that is available via traditional routes, such as employee assistance programmes (EAPs) or private medical insurance; but Group Risk Development (GRiD) is telling employers that there are now many more solutions available within group risk polices (employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness protection products).
Solutions are available to help employers and managers promote mental health and to support staff who have mental health disorders. For instance, spotting the early signs that employees need help is crucial in mitigating the chance of problems worsening and can also speed recovery. Early awareness makes early intervention possible, and a number of group risk providers offer mental health first aid training to help line managers identify early signs.
Training can also be tailored for specific demographics, such as younger workers. Courses can focus on key areas linked to depression, such as dealing with insomnia. Practical in nature, they are designed to directly encourage better behaviours to help management support their staff.
Providers have also embraced technology, including taking the development of apps to a whole new level. Proven to engage employees, they can be personally tailored to aid buy-in, incentivised with achievable rewards, and deliver tangible results. Some providers also offer free fitness trackers to staff. Employers benefit too as they can measure the difference such apps can make to their workforce.
The new developments are a great addition to the support that has already been incorporated within group risk products in recent years. Such support can include EAPs, fast-track access to counselling, case management, vocational rehabilitation, HR advice, second medical opinion and more. Employers that actively make use of the support under their group risk products can have access to both the reactive and the proactive, enabling them to offer well-rounded support for their staff and business.
There are many market-leading solutions that providers have developed to support mental health in the workplace. A lot are offered at no extra cost within group risk policies. Employers may have access to them and not realise. GRiD is urging employers to look at the details of what comes along with their group risk products, talk to their advisers, work with their providers, and make use of the support that’s available. For employers who don’t yet offer group risk benefits, it is worth investigating what’s out there.
Group risk providers have worked hard at developing solutions to help all employers and their staff every day, regardless of size or type of organisation. Those companies that make use of them effectively can reduce absence costs and improve on productivity, whilst reinforcing a caring attitude.
Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD said, ‘There is every reason for employers to investigate the new developments being made. Group risk is no longer about simply offering financial support when needed, it is seeing some of the most exciting areas of development, and it is fast becoming an important part of the go-to solution offering practical support for mental wellbeing.
‘Our message for employers that are serious about supporting mental health in the workplace is this – if you have group risk policies in place, make full use of them; if you don’t, now is the time to investigate the options available.’
GRiD is also reminding employers that it is important that such support isn’t looked at in isolation. Mental, physical and financial resilience are all equally important and go hand in hand. Offering employees support for their mental health is an important part of a holistic approach to looking after the overall health and wellbeing of staff. Group risk policies can help in all these areas.