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More employees needing mental health support during pandemic – UK survey

By Emma Bowden
More than three-quarters of businesses have noted an increase in employees requesting mental health support during the coronavirus crisis, according to a UK survey.

Some 78.5% of firms reported a rise in inquiries from staff while more than one in 10 (13.4%) have seen requests for mental health support increase significantly.

Figures show nine out of 10 (90.6%) companies said the importance of supporting the mental wellbeing of employees has increased as a result of Covid-19.

The survey of 151 British firms – employing more than half a million workers – was conducted by Reward and Employee Benefits Association (REBA), with support from workplace mental health platform Unmind.

It covers companies from across the private, public and not-for-profit sectors, including organisations such as BT, Marks and Spencer and TSB.

The report, released during Mental Health Awareness Week, found some 70% of businesses said they would be increasing investment in wellbeing support for their employees.

Nearly all of those surveyed believe the crisis will have a negative impact on the mental health of their employees.

Almost a quarter (23.2%) think the effect will be short-lived and almost half (47%) believe there could be a medium-term impact – while 15.2% of respondents said the impact could be longer term.

Meanwhile, just over half (55%) feel the mental health implications of the pandemic will negatively affect business performance over the next 12 months.

Dr Nick Taylor, chief executive officer and co-founder of Unmind and clinical psychologist, said: “We cannot underestimate the long-term impact of this pandemic on our mental health, but should also remain optimistic about what this means for the topic.

“It’s so important that businesses respond to this shift and use it as an opportunity to propel their mental health strategies forward to meet the needs and expectations of their people.”

Debi O’Donovan, director of REBA, said: “The increase in conversations by senior management and board members about mental health is particularly notable in the survey results.

“It is important that we invest now and adopt a proactive approach to prevent problems arising and ensure we are supporting our employees as much as possible throughout a period that will continue to be strenuous on their mental health.”

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