Wellbeing strategy

How can a wellbeing strategy meet the mental health challenge?


7 February 2017

How can a wellbeing strategy meet the mental health challenge?

Mental ill health is one of the greatest challenges employers face. Here’s how an effective wellbeing programme can support employees' mental – and physical – health.

Mental ill health is one of the top causes of employee absence. Research from AXA Health shows that over half of UK business bosses believe that mental health will be the biggest challenge to employee health over the next five years.

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Developing a strategy

When developing an employee health and wellbeing strategy, it’s vital to focus equally on both psychological and physical health. Dr Chris Tomkins, Head of Wellbeing Services at AXA Health says: “Wellbeing isn’t just about avoiding illness - when employees are in better physical and psychological shape, they have better levels of resilience and performance. The key is to adopt a proactive approach to help employees identify and address issues before they become serious.” 

But, despite best efforts, illness and injury will inevitably affect some employees. With this in mind a well-rounded health and wellbeing strategy will often combine proactive services with cover that includes clinically-led healthcare pathways, employee assistance programmes, occupational health services and virtual private GP services. 

Importantly, measurement tools should be integral to give management the added confidence that their wellbeing strategy is working hard for their business. Such management information can also highlight where effective adjustments can be made to adapt to changing business needs. 

Ongoing benefit

“When an employee needs help with a mental health concern they need immediate support, but NHS waiting lists can be long. This is where clinically-led healthcare pathways can get employees to the most appropriate care quickly and without needing to see their GP first. This means employees have the reassurance of accessing a seamless service while employers benefit from the knowledge that their people will receive treatment earlier and they are likely to return to better health and be back at work sooner. There are further benefits to both employer and employee when the triage process is effectively combined with their employee assistance programme,” says Dr Tomkins.

An integrated health and wellbeing strategy goes beyond an employer’s ‘duty of care’ obligations. It helps employees to become – and stay – physically and mentally fit to live their lives both at home and at work. It’s the ultimate win/win: employees feel valued, supported and energised for work and businesses see the results of their people giving their best. 


Dr Chris Tomkins


Chris combines both business experience with his doctorate in molecular biology, giving him an understanding of and passion for solutions against the diverse range of risks created by modern lifestyles, including challenges such as diabetes and hypertension.