Workplace absence due to mental health problems almost as common as colds and bugs

Workplace absence due to mental health problems  almost as common as colds and bugs
16 May 2017

New analysis of sickness absence in the contracting sector shows worrying levels of absenteeism due to mental health problems.

Analysis of sick pay data from ECIS, in support of BUPA’s Healthy Minds month this May, shows mental health as one of the top three reasons for employee absence (13%), after musculoskeletal conditions (48%) and general sickness, colds and bugs (15%). 

In stark contrast, the number of claims for the treatment of mental health problems remains a small fraction of all health insurance claims managed by ECIS, suggesting contractors are not getting the support they need to get to the root causes of their issues. 

Vicki Leslie, client relationship manager for ECIS, comments, “Between 2013 and 2016 we saw a 20% increase in health insurance claims for mental health conditions in the contracting sector but this is still a tiny proportion of all the health insurance claims we manage. 

"There’s a real disconnect between the number of workers suffering from mental health issues such as stress, anxiety and depression and those taking action to address the problem by seeking professional treatment. We therefore urge employers to take up an active role in promoting mental health and wellbeing as well as highlighting the importance of early intervention amongst their workforce.

"ECIS offers a direct access service for mental health problems allowing members to access treatment without needing to see a GP, along with an Employee Assistance Programme which provides confidential 24/7 telephone support.” 

Mental Health awareness has been widely promoted in recent months including the ‘Heads Together’ campaign spearheaded by Prince Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the launch of Mates in Mind, a new charity launched to promote the importance of positive mental health in the construction industry. 

Mates in Mind recently revealed that suicide kills more construction workers than workplace accidents. The findings follow reports that one in four employees with mental health issues label work as the cause.

Vicki Leslie concludes: “Healthy Minds month is the perfect time to remind construction workers and their employers of the importance of mental well-being. The good news is that this is one of a number of powerful campaigns to help break down the stigma associated with mental health problems. 

"In a recent survey we conducted 80% of contractors said they actively encourage a healthy lifestyle amongst employees and 86% of workers would feel comfortable talking to their employer about a health issue that may impact their work. This needs to extend to matters of mental health.”

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