More than half of companies take a proactive approach to mental health

More than half (52 per cent) of UK HR professionals now regularly engage with their staff to gain an insight into their mental wellbeing, new research has revealed.

The study, from employee health risk specialist PMI Health Group, found that 78 per cent of HR professionals hold an informal discussion with an employee if they suspect they might be suffering mental health problems. Only seven per cent do nothing and wait to be approached by the employee.

“The old stigmas about mental health are finally beginning to fade as employers realise that a sit back and wait approach to such issues is no longer an option,” said Mike Blake, Director at PMI Health Group.

"Being proactive and making regular checks on employees' emotional, as well as physical, health should be an important part of every employee wellbeing policy and can have a huge impact on how long the condition lasts."

The research also revealed that HR professionals are making the most of the many tools that are now available to support employees with mental health issues. Forty-three per cent direct employees towards a counselling helpline, 37 per cent refer them to an occupational health service, 27 per cent advise them to visit their GP and 21 per cent ask their colleagues to keep an eye on them. 

Only one in five (21 per cent) HR professionals still don't offer staff access to the necessary treatment and support services (such as counselling or an Employee Assistance Programme) to address mental health problems.

More than half (56 per cent) of respondents, however, claimed management in their company were not offered any training or advice on techniques designed to reduce workplace stress, such as adopting an accessible approach, engaging and empowering staff.