Dr Mark Winwood, Clinical Lead - Mental Health Services at AXA Health

How can business owners support the mental health of their team?

Our People

24 February 2020

When one of your team is experiencing a mental health problem, it can impact all areas of their life. From lost sleep, strained relationships and difficulty concentrating at work. It can have a big impact on your business too. Analysis by Deloitte estimates that poor mental health costs UK employers £42 - £45 billion a year – a 16% increase since 20161. This comprises £7bn in absence costs, £27bn - £29bn in presenteeism costs and £9bn in costs of staff turnover1.

With approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK experiencing a mental health problem each year2, and UK SMEs losing 28 working days a year to poor mental health3, it’s more important than ever for business owners to support the mental wellbeing of their team.

What causes mental health difficulties in the workplace?

While mental health problems are very personal to each individual, there can sometimes be commonalities when investigating the causes. When it comes to mental health difficulties at work, research by Business in the Community found that the biggest causes were1:

Targets icon.png Pressure - too many priorities or targets etc (52%)

Clock icon.png Working overtime and/or rarely taking leave due to workload (36%)

Heart icon.png Not being supported in my role (35%)

Friends icon.png Negative work relationships (33%)

Work may not always be the sole cause of poor mental health amongst employees. However, being able to identify areas within the workplace that may be contributing towards increased levels of stress, which can exacerbate to, or trigger, a period of poor mental health can help business owners to identify where improvements can be made to particular processes or where HR issues may need addressing.

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Tips to help support the mental health of your team

Dr Mark Winwood, Clinical Lead - Mental Health Services at AXA Health, shares his advice for how business owners can support the mental health of their team. 

  • Be open and honest. In order to raise awareness and normalise discussions around mental health, it is helpful if business owners and managers try and be open and encourage members of their team to share their experiences. Having members of the senior management team share their own experiences of managing their own mental health challenges and their techniques for improving their emotional resilience can have a big impact on the rest of the business in regards to normalising the discussion.
  • Analyse the workplace. While it’s not possible to eradicate all work pressures, reviewing the current workplace may help you to identify areas that may be adding to employees’ stress, such as unnecessary processes that could be streamlined.
  • Educate your managers. Empower line managers within your business to feel comfortable discussing mental health and wellbeing with their team by providing them with training and support in how to handle the conversations. You could also provide them with training on how to spot symptoms of high levels of stress and common mental health problems, so they can identify when a member of their team may be struggling.
  • Communicate the support available. Make sure that any support that you have available for your team, such as an Employee Assistance Programme, is clearly communicated so employees know where they can go for help. Ensure that your line managers are aware of this too, so they can point their team in the right direction.
  • Encourage a positive work life balance. A positive work life balance is essential for employee wellbeing. It helps employees to be more resilient and less likely to succumb to overwhelming stress. Modelling positive work life balance behaviours yourself, such as leaving the office at a reasonable time every day and making use of your lunch break, can help to encourage your team to do the same.

How we can help

With an Employee Assistance Programme in place, your team can get help with the things that are affecting them right from the start – before they start to impact their wellbeing and productivity. Whether they’re going through a family break up, have financial concerns or are struggling with the stresses of work, you can rest assured that they’ll have someone to talk to confidentially by phone – 24/7, 365 days a year. Find out more about our Employee Assistance Programme.

Our Mental Health cover option can further help to show your business commitment to supporting mental health. Whether your team needs counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), or psychiatric treatment in a private hospital. 

Plus our Stronger Minds service* (available with our Mental Health cover option), means that your team won’t need a GP referral in order to access help and support. They can simply call our Stronger Minds team for a phone assessment with a trained expert who can guide them to the right support or refer them to see a specialist. Cover is subject to terms and conditions and dependant on the underwriting terms you choose.

Groups of 1-2 employees will need to include either our Treatment Option or our Diagnostic Only Option when purchasing our Mental Health Option. Groups of 3+ employees can purchase our Mental Health Option standalone.

Find out more about our Mental Health cover option, including what is and isn’t covered, and get a quote today

*The Stronger Minds service is available for members aged 18 years and over.

Sources and references

1Deloitte UK, Mental health and employers 2020


3Aldermore, 2018

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