As Mental Health Awareness Week (13 – 19 May 2024) approaches, Towergate Health & Protection emphasises the critical importance of addressing mental health as the foundation of all health and wellbeing aspects. This focus is crucial in workplaces, where comprehensive support can be effectively implemented.

Debra Clark, head of wellbeing at Towergate Health & Protection, highlights the significance of a holistic approach to employee wellbeing,

Wellbeing is supported by four pillars: mental, financial, physical, and social. They are all intrinsically linked and if an employee is experiencing challenges with one aspect, it is likely to impact more areas of their overall wellbeing. Mental health underpins everything to do with a person’s health and wellbeing, and therefore, any mental health issue will impact an employee in their workplace as well as their home life.

Debra Clark, head of wellbeing at Towergate Health & Protection

The UK’s Health and Safety Executive reports that stress, depression, or anxiety were the leading causes of work-related ill health in 2022/23, resulting in 17.1 million lost days. These figures represent the urgent need for robust mental health support systems within companies.

For employers, the Mental Health Awareness Week presents an opportune moment to reinforce the support mechanisms available through employee benefits programs. These programs range from prevention to intervention for serious issues, offering a spectrum of solutions, including employee assistance programmes (EAP), group life assurance, and cash plans. Debra Clark advises,

If the company has a benefits programme, this week provides a good opportunity to remind staff what is available to them and how to access it.

In addition to supporting employees, there is a growing need to extend mental health support to their families, particularly children. RedArc’s analysis over the past five years reveals a significant rise in mental health issues among children, with a 42% increase in referrals and 30% of new child referrals in 2023 alone being for mental health.

Christine Husbands, commercial director for RedArc, points out the ripple effects of child mental health on families,

With the pressures on the NHS, we have seen an increasing number of enquiries for areas such as getting a diagnosis for a child who appears to have a mental health issue or supporting a child with an ongoing problem. Particularly with children, an untreated mental health issue can cause developmental problems in adolescence and impaired mental health later in life too.

Christine Husbands, commercial director for RedArc

This data not only highlights the prevalence of mental health concerns among children but also the critical impact of timely and effective support. Many employee benefits that offer support for dependants are available, yet underutilised due to a lack of awareness among parents and guardians.

To address these challenges, it is essential for businesses to ensure that their line managers are not only trained to be supportive but also well-informed about the mental health resources available within their employee benefits programs. Clark asserts,

Line managers are critical when it comes to an employee’s wellbeing at work: they often know their people best and can spot subtle changes in behaviour that might indicate they need support.

The integration of child mental health support into workplace wellbeing strategies helps the immediate family members and enhances overall employee satisfaction and productivity. This Mental Health Awareness Week is an ideal time for employers to review and possibly enhance their support offerings, ensuring a healthier future for both their employees and their families.

Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website | + posts

Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.