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Health Assured reports a 31% increase in calls about depression to their EAP helpline

Data from the UK’s leading health and wellbeing provider, Health Assured has revealed the number of people calling for support for depression on their EAP (employee assistance programme) helpline increased by 31% in June compared to May this year. In June, the helpline received an additional 249 calls regarding the illness.

This worrying statistic comes after a report published last week by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that the proportion of people in the UK suffering with depression has almost doubled during the Covid-19 pandemic.


The Office for National Statistics (ONS) also said 19 per cent of adults reported some form of depression during June, compared with 10 per cent in the nine months to March 2020. Stress and anxiety were the most common types of depression listed by people.


David Price, a workplace wellbeing expert and CEO of Health Assured, issued some advice on how businesses can support employees who are struggling with depression:


“It’s unsurprising to see a significant increase in calls regarding depression. These last six months have been difficult, and people across the UK are trying to cope with the new normal of life during a pandemic. Many are dealing with unemployment and financial issues. With the continued uncertainty about what the future holds, which will likely cause more anxiety, we feel this upward trend is expected to continue.


“As a business, you must remember that depression is a complex mental health issue and isn’t about an employee’s need to “get over” whatever they’re struggling with. There’s still a stigma surrounding mental health. Dealing with depression at work must include recognising employees won’t naturally open up about their struggles.


“They may worry that it could affect their future with your business. So it’s important to handle the subject carefully so as not to make the individual’s situation worse.  


“As a result, one of the first approaches you can take is making sure your employee doesn’t have any triggers for depression at your place of work. Some of these may include; an overly high workload, concerns over their job security and financial struggles.


“If an employee suffers from depression, they do have depression and work rights. For example, they can claim time off for stress to recover—they’ll need to see their GP to claim this time off.


“But before they take that step, you should encourage your staff to reach out to higher management. Have an open business policy that fosters discussion about mental health issues. This can encourage employees to open up, which can start the process of managing depression at work. 


“Your line managers are essential in that process. If a staff member feels comfortable speaking to them, then they can address the issues they’re struggling with (especially if it’s work that’s causing the problem). Your managers can encourage your employees to seek help. They can refer to their GP, but if you have an employee assistance programme (EAP) then staff can turn to your internal services for support.”

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