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The clear link between mental health and absenteeism

he Covid-19 pandemic has not only had a dramatic effect on how people are working, it’s also having a huge impact on people’s mental health. How can employers better support their worforce?

Employers need to offer better support for staff who may be suffering from mental health issues, which are amplified this year due to Covid-19.

Recent analysis by the charity, Centre for Mental Health[i] suggests that at least half a million more people in the UK may experience mental ill health as a result of the global pandemic in the next two years.

Also, the Office for National Statistics[ii] highlighted that 19.2% of adults were estimated to be experiencing feelings of depression in June 2020, compared with 9.7% before the pandemic. Eighty-five per cent of those experiencing some form of depression felt their wellbeing was being affected by feelings of stress or anxiety.

Adrian Lewis, director at Active Absence says, “The Covid-19 pandemic has not only had a dramatic effect on how people are working, it’s also having a huge impact on people’s mental health. Prior to Covid employers were starting to recognise mental health as a growing problem in the workplace, but this is likely to escalate over the next year.

“Unfortunately, employees often suffer in silence, and with many still working remotely it can be a real challenge for employers to know if someone is struggling. However, it is important that employers put systems in place to identify signs of poor mental health so that they can address them as quickly as possible.

“One of the ways to do this is using absence management technology.  This tracks absence and helps managers’ spot early signs that someone may be suffering from stress, anxiety or depression. They can see instantly if someone is taking regular days off sick or more days off than usual, all of which could be a symptom of something more serious.

“The software also prompts return to work interviews so managers can privately discuss any issues with an employee. Open communication is vital and can help employees feel more comfortable discussing their personal situation. Employers can then proactively direct people to support services through EAPs, such as counselling should this be needed.”

“On World Mental Health Day, we are encouraging employers to put measures in place now to look after the mental wellbeing of their staff no matter where they are working. Understanding their staff and getting to the root causes of absenteeism is a good place to start and can make a big difference to the outcome for both the business and the employee.

“A healthy and happy workforce is a motivated and productive one. In the post Covid world, with growing concerns about people’s mental health, as well as the uncertainly in the economy this is essential for businesses to thrive.”

[i] https://www.centreformentalhealth.org.uk/news/least-half-million-more-people-uk-may-experience-mental-ill-health-result-covid-19-says-first-forecast-centre-mental-health

[ii] https://www.personneltoday.com/hr/pandemic-mental-health-crisis-needs-tackling-swiftly/

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