Since the beginning of the 2020 international health crisis, mental health has become a major focus across all sectors. In addition to the increasing levels of anxiety that surround COVID-19, there are also the effects of isolation and social distance upon mental health, as well as those disorders, such as depression, which historically correlate with a worsening economy. Many now consider the UK to be experiencing a mental health crisis, with the term ‘post-pandemic stress disorder’ also appearing. For employers, who are have the responsibility of ensuring their workplace is a supportive environment, one conducive to both physical and mental wellbeing, this poses a problem.
However, while the levels of mental ill-health within the UK are now rising, its representation and support within the workplace have never been suitable. Despite mental health disorders being widespread across the country, fewer businesses actually offer workplace counselling or professional therapy services as part of their employment.
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, experts estimated that mental health issues among staff were costing UK businesses between £33bn and £42bn annually. This figure works out around £1300 per employee a year, which occurs in the form of sick days, reduced productivity, and staff turnover, the latter of which also incurs costs of hiring and retraining staff.
Despite this significant financial incentive to prioritise mental health among workers, businesses have historically been slow to adopt and form of support. Additionally, there is a pervasive stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace, with many employees feeling unable to express their concerns for fear that it will reflect badly on their professional suitability.
The figures surrounding mental health in the wake of COVID-19 are still being processed and it is unlikely that the extent of impact, from both the virus itself and lockdown, will be fully understood for some time. There are, however, early figures that can be understood and they are, expectedly, shocking.
When compared with the previous year, January 2021 saw claims of anxiety and depression rise by 30%. The NHS, as well as supporting mental health services and charities, have seen calls for help increases drastically. Mental health is worsening and, following the country’s recovery from COVID-19, it is set to be the most important health challenge we face.
As mental ill-health spreads, it is in the interest of businesses to finally uphold the duty of care they promise and incorporate support into their professional environment. Counselling services, such as https://bristolcounsellingandpsychotherapy.co.uk/, have already begun to prioritise their business support, working with companies across the country to improve the well-being of their staff. This type of collaboration, one that allows employees to seek mental health support, without judgement or cost, is hugely beneficial to both them and the employer, improving productivity, reducing staffing costs, and, most importantly, ensuring their ongoing health and sense of value.
If businesses are eager to recover from lockdown, once again opening their doors and returning the economy to its former strength, then it follows that they should also be seeking to introduce such counselling and therapy services into their workplace. If they fail to do so, unlike before COVID, the new outcome will be much less forgiving for both parties.