Not enough being done to support Yorkshire staff mental health in the workplace

Is enough being done to support your mental health?
Is enough being done to support your mental health?

With a rise in workplace-related stress, illnesses and mental health issues, 51% of working adults in Yorkshire believe that businesses are not doing enough to support the physical and mental wellbeing of their employees, according to a new study released today.

Current treatments such as health check-ups, cognitive behavioural therapy and chiropractic treatment are provided by the NHS, through National Insurance contributions, but 71% of those surveyed by Westfield Healthstated that the NHS does not have the budget to provide wellbeing services like these.

So is National Insurance becoming unfit for purpose? People in Yorkshire don’t seem to know, with 21% of employees knowing how much National Insurance they pay and 37% not knowing how much of the contribution goes where, be it the NHS, social security or their state pension.

With an ageing workforce and more hours spent in the office than ever, should the NHS’s frontline resources continue to be used for wellbeing services? The research found that 64% of workers in Yorkshire would like to see the Government do more to promote their physical and mental wellbeing. And the vast majority 77% believe that their employers are specifically not doing enough to help employees deal with work-related stress, anxiety and other mental health issues.

Similar to the recent rollout of the workplace pension opt-out, could a government-backed auto-enrolment scheme for wellbeing programmes - funded by employers and by a portion of employees’ National Insurance contributions - be one of the solutions to address the NHS’s long-term financial needs?

Certainly the appetite is there in Yorkshire with 60% of employees stating they’d use wellbeing services if their employer provided them.

The top things they would like to be offered are:

1. Emotional wellness 48%

2. Health check-ups 47%

3. Counselling 41%

David Capper, Commercial Director of Westfield Health, said: “The total number of UK working days lost to stress, anxiety and depression resulting from long working hours is 12.5million days. Therefore, it makes sense for employers to relieve some of the pressure through wellbeing initiatives. Not only would they be supporting our economy, they’ll make huge cost savings by looking after their staff’s health, with presenteeism now costing businesses up to three times more than absenteeism*.

“From sleep to nutrition and mental health to physical fitness, there are so many elements that contribute to your overall wellness, happiness and healthiness. It’s more than free fruit in the office and discounted gym memberships. As business leaders, we need to create a culture where our people’s health and wellbeing is prioritised to drive confidence, capability, inspiration and ultimately prosperity.”

Chris Allen, Managing Partner at Leeds-based Blacks Solicitors LLP, which is passionate about wellbeing in the workplace, commented: “Law is a highly competitive industry and so standing out and attracting the best talent is paramount.

“We’ve recently moved offices to create a more positive and collaborative working space for our employees, with lots of natural light and social spaces. We purposely have kept our office open plan to encourage junior staff members to feel at ease with senior staff and partners, and to reinforce our open door policy.

“I believe our high retention rate is due to us investing time to nurture and care for our employees. In addition, I consider sport as an important part of maintaining both a physical and mental healthy lifestyle. We have set up both a netball and football team that take part in matches every week. This not only acts as a great teamwork building exercise, but also encourages staff to look after themselves and help relieve any stresses from the week. We still have a way to go, but health and wellbeing is firmly on our agenda in order to keep ahead of the competition.”

For more information about workplace health and wellbeing, please call 03331 227 343 or visit www.westfieldhealth.com/business.