Typically, employers do not understand mental ill-health. And when their staff do have time off due to mental health conditions, they are expected to return and hit the ground running, which can be too much for many people and significantly increases the chance of further absence from work. This is according to RedArc Nurses, following publication of Thriving at Work: The Stevenson/Farmer review of mental health and employers.
RedArc Nurses, which, as part of their service, offers support for those with mental ill-health, works with over a thousand employees dealing with mental ill-health every year. They have seen referrals for mental ill-health more than double over the last five years, and 70% of those cite work as a key source of stress. Supporting those with mental ill-health can be more complicated than those with physical ill-health, taking nearly 25% more time and resources to support.
Christine Husbands, managing director for RedArc, says, ‘Our experience demonstrates that it is far from straightforward looking after employees with poor mental health, so it’s not surprising that employers struggle. There are an increasing number of forward-thinking employers that want to support good mental health, but a lack of understanding can lead to exacerbating the issue. Support is available, and it’s important that employers work with specialists in this field.’
According to RedArc, one of the most important aspects when looking after mental health is early intervention. On average, 70 per cent of patients RedArc supports recover to normal mood levels within three to four months, this can be greatly improved the earlier someone is referred, and conversely, can take longer if their issues are left untreated.
Christine Husbands continued, ‘When every employer offers access to specialist mental health support, and actively encourages its use, then we’ll see real progress. And this support is not expensive to offer, it is often included at no extra charge as part of group protection benefits such as critical illness and income protection. Those employers that actively make use of them are the ones seeing the positive results.’