Counselling makes business sense
Do your employers take an interest in the emotional health of their staff? They ought to, if only because they have an increasing self-interest in doing so.
A growing number of businesses do now take an interest in their employees' well-being. BT, Rolls Royce, Grant Thornton, and many others have now introduced mental health programmes for their staff. These range from training managers to spot problems in their teams to rehabilitating those suffering breakdowns.
Doctors report that more than a third of the physical problems which patients present with have some psychological basis: back, stomach or neck pains may not just have a somatic cause. And doctors can report some other compelling statistics. The Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health estimates that a sixth of the British workforce suffers from depression, anxiety or stress. These sorts of issues are the main cause of incapacity benefit claims and the primary cause of staff absence: 70 million days a year.
For those in work, mental health issues cost their employers about £40 billion a year. Across UK society as a whole, the total cost is at least double that. And American research suggests that presenteeism – whereby the walking wounded turn up to work without contributing – costs twice as much as absenteeism.
So, emotional issues can take a serious toll on productivity. And companies bear their share of the blame for causing stress in the first place – as employment tribunals often prove. Catching psychological problems early can prevent them from escalating. BT reports that its programmes have reduced levels of sickness absence due to mental health problems by 30%.
If you feel that you would benefit from counselling on work-related issues, you might be lucky and find that your employer offers an EAP - an employee assistance programme.
What is an employee assistance programme?
An EAP is an employer-funded service which gives staff access to free counselling and well-being support.
This form of support intends to help employees manage personal issues that might adversely impact their health, well-being and work performance. EAP services will typically include assessment, short-term counselling and referral services for employees, although what is available to you will depend on your employer and/or health insurance provider.
If you don't have access to an EAP, you still have various choices. You could approach your GP but often it can be a postcode lottery as to how many sessions the NHS can offer, and how long you might have to wait. As an alternative, some towns now have a voluntary agency offering counselling services on a charitable basis.