Lifeworks say we shouldn’t be alarmed – more staff are choosing to seek support as employers encourage more openness
One of the UK’s largest Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) and Wellbeing providers, LifeWorks has reported that they recorded a 40 percent increase in the number of calls to its service from staff suffering from anxiety and depression last year and first quarter figures this year show a 25 percent increase on the same period in 2016. Over the last five years, there has been an overall increase of 174 percent.
The company provides services for some 7 million employees in the UK and has a network of over 600 clinical experts. Anxiety and depression is the most common reason for calling by a significant majority, representing 37 percent of all calls to the service. The second most common reason for calling is personal relationship problems at just 7 percent.
LifeWorks has also seen an increase in the demand for emotional support, up by nearly a third last year (27 percent) and more than three-fifths (55 percent) over the last three years. First quarter figures this year show a 27 percent increase on the same period last year.
Commenting on the figures, LifeWorks UK Clinical Director, Colin Grange said,
“Whilst this upward trend may seem alarming, given one in six British workers are affected by mental health issues, it indicates staff are taking up the support provided by their employers. This hasn’t always been the case; the stigma of having a mental health issue and a general lack of awareness of workplace support tools have been significant barriers. This is a sign that organisations are starting to embed mental health wellbeing into their workplace philosophy.”
The majority of callers to the service say their performance at work remains normal or satisfactory despite their reasons for calling, but ten percent say their work is impaired or severely impaired and nine percent are on sick leave or absent as a result.
“The ideal scenario is that people contact us for help before things get so bad for them that they can no longer go to work. It’s reassuring to see employees taking action sooner and we must encourage this.”