Use unconventional therapies to shine a light on wide-ranging mental health support, says RedArc

As offering support for mental health moves up the workplace agenda, many employers may first consider providing access to talking therapies such as counselling, however, developments in the field of mental health support are made all the time and there’s a much wider range on offer, and letting staff know about them can be the key to encouraging them to get support.

Clinical Assessment must come first

Mental health conditions can be wide-ranging, from stress and anxiety to severe depression and psychosis. It’s not only difficult for employers to keep track of what’s new in terms of support; as they’re not mental health specialists, it isn’t possible for employers to know what the most effective treatment for a mental health condition might be.

Many employers may believe that a talking therapy, such as counselling, is the main solution for mental ill health, but this won’t be right for everyone. RedArc emphasises that the most important thing is for an employee to be offered a clinical assessment – from a specialist mental health nurse or doctor – before the most appropriate course of action can be recommended.

Christine Husbands, managing director for RedArc nurses says, ‘It’s not uncommon for us to get a call asking for a specific type of treatment, particularly if it’s had a lot of recent publicity, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for instance, and of course, there’s nothing to stop employees seeking a particular type of treatment independently, but it might not be the most appropriate for them, so it’s crucial they are assessed first.’

 Employee engagement

There is a wide range of support that can be offered, and letting employees know about this can be a big help with getting them engaged and actually seeking support. Employees may become immune to messages about mental health or access to counselling, but offering access to a wide range of mental health support can be a great way to engage employees.

Christine Husbands, continued: “In many cases, unconventional therapies receive a lot more ‘air time’ that traditional talking therapies and communicating the more attention-grabbing alternative therapies can be a good tactic in helping to shine a light on the depth and breadth of what is available, Something “different” might be enough to encourage an employee to consider seeking support, but it’s really important that expertise is included to ensure that the most appropriate therapy is accessed.”

A selection of alternative therapies currently offered by RedArc, available directly and via group risk insurances and various EAPs:

  • EMDR Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing Therapy: EMDR helps create the connections between the brain’s memory networks, enabling it to process a traumatic memory in a very natural way.
  • Hypnotherapy: Hypnosis is a natural phenomenon, or state of mind, which allows positive change, recovery and healing processes (mental, emotional and physical) to occur more easily than the normal busy ‘daily life’ brain can often allow.
  • Art therapy: Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses art media as its primary mode of expression and communication. Within this context, art is not used as diagnostic tool but as a medium to address emotional issues which may be confusing and distressing.
  • Drama therapy: Drama therapy is a form of psychological therapy in which all of the performance arts are utilised within the therapeutic relationship enabling the client to explore difficult and painful life experiences through an indirect approach.
  • Solution-focused brief therapy, family therapy and life coaching are all alternative forms of talking therapies with specific approaches that are appropriate to mental health conditions.

Christine Husbands concluded: “We understand that it can be tough for employers to strike the right balance in this area: they want to be seen to be cutting edge and offering the most innovative treatments to their staff and yet may lack the knowledge to determine a fad from a breakthrough new therapy.

“Many therapies have their place in the holistic treatment of a mental health condition but knowing what and when they would be appropriate requires the expertise of a mental health specialist. By using an expert provider, the employer will have access to an ever-evolving number of treatments for their staff but with the peace of mind that they are appropriate.”

Access to support

There are a number of ways that employers can offer access to such support, including directly with specialists, via group risk schemes, employee assistance programmes or private medical insurance. However, the company warns that not all support is the same, some will offer very light-touch support with a limited range and number of therapy sessions, others will offer a clinical assessment and an appropriate number of sessions from a wide range of therapy options, so it’s important that employers do their homework and know what they’re getting.