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Employees with physical conditions also require mental health support

Christine Husbands

Employees who initially present with physical health conditions need support for mental health and emotional problems in practically all cases. Comment from Christine Husbands, managing director for RedArc.

The company has found that no matter what the individual’s physical health condition, some level of additional mental or emotional problem also needs to be dealt with after the initial diagnosis. Christine Husbands, managing director for RedArc says: “For employers this can come as somewhat of a surprise, as once the physical issue is being dealt with there is often a ‘business as usual’ mentality from line managers or HR departments. However, many employees need support in dealing with related issues such as managing pain, loss of dignity or coming to terms with life-changing health conditions. Other non-medical issues can become overwhelming during times of ill-health too, such as changes in the workplace, financial pressures, loss of confidence and fatigue.”

RedArc advises employers to consider the entire wellbeing of the employee and not just to acknowledge their physical symptoms. Many employees who have access to an independent nurse adviser refer to them as an ‘expert best friend’ reflecting the time they can dedicate to the emotional wellbeing of the employee-patient and the supportive relationship they can build. RedArc believes that third-party telemedical advisers are growing in popularity for a number of reasons: Squeezed NHS hospital services and pressure on GPs. More people are surviving serious illnesses but living with multiple health problems

Families living further apart and not available to physically support each other. Financial pressures and debt worries when ill. Pressure at work and fear of failure when suffering an illness or returning to employment.

Christine Husbands concluded:Falling ill with a physical condition can expose a mental fragility in even the seemingly toughest of employees. Having a way to support staff through what can be a difficult journey to full health or in a return to a new norm, is greatly valued and it helps engender an extremely positive sentiment towards the employer as well. Employers can’t be expected to understand the intricacies of every single illness and the associated mental health issues, but by offering a support service they are embracing their duty of care and demonstrating to the individual and the wider staff community that they care about employees and want to go the extra mile for them.”

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