Investing in mental health is a priority
Good business decisions are driven by return on investment. But, it’s not a phrase we always associate with mental health in the workplace. This could be a missed opportunity.
Building resilient teams and preventing mental health problems can be helped by:
The business case is compelling. The Mental Health Foundation says addressing wellbeing at work increases productivity by as much as 12%.1
Deloitte is an accountancy and professional services firm. It estimates that every £1 employers invest in mental health will now deliver a return of £5. And this is likely to rise.2
Deloitte last calculated the return in 2017. They found every £1 invested in employee mental health returned £4.2
That same year, a study published in The Lancet had similar findings. They found investing in managers delivers even greater benefits. The study estimated a return on investment of £9.98 for every pound spent on mental health training for these important team members.3
The case for investment
Deloitte’s report Mental health and employers: Refreshing the case for investment identifies three key features of workplace programmes that will deliver significant returns:2
- A large‐scale culture change. Or, organisation‐wide initiatives supporting large numbers of employees.
- A focus on prevention and building employee resilience.
- Use of technology or diagnostics to provide tailored support for those most at risk.
Dr Sarah Griffiths, Lead Behavioural Insights Advisor at Bupa UK says,
“Mental health support needs to be embraced by the workplace, with health promotion, wellness, safety and company leadership integrated into other parts of the larger organisation.
“Employees are more likely to see available support as an option to them when workplace role models get involved personally to develop a work culture that is accepting and supportive of employees.”
“There can be generational differences within the workforce and uptake of employee assistance programmes. For example, some studies suggest that millennial age workers may prefer tech-based solutions, such as support applications and digital self-help programmes.”
Dr Robin Clark, Medical Director of Bupa UK, says,
“Our wealth of resources, tools, line-manager training guides and other information, as well as Bupa’s Employee Assistance Programmes, will help organisations achieve all three of these goals.
“Investing in workplace wellbeing is not only the right thing to do ethically, it’s also the right thing to do for talent retention and productivity.”
Bupa data confirms the benefits of investing in early interventions for mental wellbeing in the workplace. Having an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) reduces mental health claims by 25%. This is because employees are able to access support when they need it.4
Depending on the condition and type of support employees access, in 56% of cases there is no need for a claim.4
Tools and support
There are easily accessible tools available. Tools can be used to improve mental health and provide evidence-based therapies. They include:
Face-to-face counselling and therapy can be provided if it’s needed. But Dr Clark says many employees prefer the ease and anonymity of online and digital interventions.
A 2022 review of the evidence found these digital and online technologies are:
“capable of producing meaningful changes in the lives of individuals struggling with various mental and behavioural health concerns”.6 Another review pointed out:
- Internet-based interventions,
- Blended-care models,
- And stepped-care models
provide mental health services “in a less stigmatising and easily accessible and flexible manner”. This is in contrast to conventional face-to-face therapy.7
It also warns that given the strong links between emotional and physical health, failing to provide effective mental health support “has serious ramifications”.
Failing to provide mental health support is a particularly high risk strategy. This is more important given the challenging times ahead.
Resources and guides
1 Mental Health Foundation , date unknown.
2 Deloitte, 2020.
3 Workplace mental health training for managers and its effect on sick leave in employees: a cluster randomised controlled trial, 2017. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(17)30372-3
4 Understanding EAP Pathways, Bupa, 2021.
5 SilverCloud, date unknown.
6 An overview of and recommendations for more accessible digital mental health services, 2022. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s44159-021-00003-1
7 Mental Health Prevention and Promotion - A Narrative Review, 2022. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2022.898009