Why counselling should matter to business

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 large businesses do now take an interest. BT, Rolls Royce and Grant Thornton have introduced mental health programmes. 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 sort 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 £40bn 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%.

Do your employers match up?

 

added at 12:02am on 14th February 2012

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