Supporting mental wellbeing: a boost for business, not just health

Jacqui Hall Bupa Mental Heath Nurse Author By Jacqui Hall, Mental Health Nurse, Bupa UK

13 August 2019

With one third of accountants affected by poor mental wellbeing, there are costs in terms of health, happiness and productivity. Bupa's mental health expert Jacqui Hall discusses how organisations can increase their support.

By increasing their level of support in this area, organisations can boost all three of these outcomes. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that depression and anxiety, two of the most common mental health problems, cost the global economy a trillion US dollars each year in lost productivity. On a national level, figures from the UK Government echo this, with up to £99 billion believed to be the annual cost of companies’ failure to deal with mental health.

And these numbers aren’t only calculated by taking sickness absence into account. In fact, many employees affected by a mental health problem will continue to work, often without seeking any support from their manager or colleagues.

They may not feel able to speak openly about how they are feeling. Meanwhile, they may be finding it hard to concentrate, lacking confidence in their interactions with colleagues and clients, or generally struggling to keep up with their workload due to the effects of their condition.

Helping people to be at their best

Because mental health problems affect workplace efficiency in this way, it’s clear that companies supporting employees to feel at their best isn’t only the right thing to do. It also has clear business benefits. WHO calculates that money spent on mental health interventions can return four-fold in terms of increased productivity and health. Workplaces that offer good mental health support are likely to see reduced sickness absence, more people working at their best and greater staff retainment.

Simple first steps towards support

One of the simplest first steps you can take to support colleagues is to learn more about mental health. Arm yourself with knowledge about common types of mental health problems. It might help you to spot the signs that someone is going through a difficult time, or to know more about what they’re experiencing if they tell you they have a particular diagnosis.

It’s also a good idea for managers to get comfortable with the thought of having conversations about mental health. Bupa research shows that this can be a daunting prospect for many line managers, but this needn’t be the case. By listening, being encouraging and asking open questions, you can understand what adjustments might help.

Four further ways to enhance your support offering

  1. Have effective polices and support measures in place around mental health. Plus, make sure these are communicated efficiently. If people know what help is available, they’re more likely open up about needing it.
  2. Invest in training. According to Business in the Community, a charity that promotes corporate responsibility, only about one in four managers receive mental health training. Get ahead of the curve by arranging sessions for you and your fellow managers – organisations such as Mind offer courses.
  3. Nurture an open and non-judgemental culture. If colleagues in senior positions talk about their own mental health, that is very powerful. It’s a clear sign that management does not see having mental health issues as a sign of weakness or failure. This makes it easier for others to ask for help.
  4. Look after your own mental health. If you’re not in a great place yourself, you may struggle to help others. Be aware of how you are feeling and take the steps you need to stay healthy, such as exercising, making time to relax and doing things you enjoy outside work.

Find out more about mental health cover and medical support from our health insurance partner, Bupa. Remember, ICAS members also receive 10% off* Bupa By You health insurance. *T&C’s apply

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This blog is one of a series of articles from our commercial partners.
The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of ICAS.


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