As the world prepares to observe World Mental Health Day on October 10, a recent study conducted by Towergate Health & Protection reveals a concerning reality: only a little over half of companies, at 54 percent, offer support for the mental health and wellbeing of their employees.
This statistic underscores the pressing need for greater awareness and action regarding mental health support in the workplace.
Breaking down the research by company size, the study found that 70 percent of large corporations provide some form of mental health support, while the figures dip to 49 percent for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and plummet to a mere 37 percent for micro-companies.
Furthermore, support varies by industry, with construction companies being the least likely to provide mental health support at 43 percent, while the healthcare sector stands out with 80 percent of companies offering such support.
Debra Clark, Head of Wellbeing at Towergate Health & Protection, emphasised the importance of equal access to mental health support, stating, “Everyone should be given access to mental health support at work, regardless of the size of the company or the industry in which they are based.”
A universal human right
The theme for World Mental Health Day 2023 is ‘mental health is a universal human right,’ highlighting the critical role workplaces play in providing opportunities to enhance mental wellbeing and offering crucial mental health support when needed.
One of the key findings of the study is the cost-effectiveness of providing mental health support in the workplace. It has been shown to pay for itself through increased productivity and reduced employee absenteeism, particularly among those who are mentally well and resilient.
Are wellbeing apps useful?
Employers have a plethora of options available to support mental health among their workforce. These range from mental wellbeing apps as an entry-level solution to more comprehensive digital tools and even counselling services. Employee benefits such as employee assistance programs (EAPs) often include access to counselling. Some companies have gone further by training mental health first aiders and implementing broader wellbeing initiatives.
Debra Clark emphasised the multitude of ways employers can offer mental wellbeing support and urged all employers to consider implementing such initiatives. “With the number of ways to offer mental wellbeing support, options at every level, and the huge benefits it brings, we would encourage every employer to offer it,” she said.
As the world marks World Mental Health Day, it serves as a timely reminder of the pressing need for increased mental health support in the workplace, ensuring that employees from all walks of life have access to the resources and assistance necessary to nurture their mental wellbeing.
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.