Research by a leading Suffolk-based digital insurance broker has shown that nearly a third of people have taken sick days as a result of mental health issues.
PolicyBee, based in Ipswich, undertook research into staff sickness ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week which begins today (13 May).
The findings highlighted that 30.6% of those surveyed have taken sick days due to mental health-related issues such as stress, depression and anxiety.
According to the Mental Health Foundation better mental health and support in the workplace can save UK businesses up to £8 billion per year.
Dominique Fell-Clark, head of marketing at PolicyBee, said: “Our research has shown a significant number of people have taken sick days because of mental health-related issues. From an employer’s perspective, mental health should be treated no differently to any other illness and more needs to be done to remove the stigma that is associated with openly discussing mental health in the workplace.
“As employers, we have a responsibility to create an open culture where those suffering can feel confident that they can discuss what is going on with their line managers without the fear that it may affect their position or that they may be judged in some way.
“This mental health awareness week we want to encourage businesses to consider including mental health support as part of their benefits packages.
“Many employers offer staff health insurance, but policies that provide health and wellbeing support as opposed to just ‘health insurance’ lend themselves better to supporting stress and mental health by offering additional treatment options such as counselling as part of the cover.
“Another way businesses can help staff is by working with the local branch of a mental health charity like Mind, who offer workshops for businesses to provide staff with an open forum to share in a safe space. Workshops like these can provide managers with training and techniques to help them support team members that may need it.”
PolicyBee now sells the health and wellbeing support package Equipsme which offers stress support as an optional extra. The broker also provides the cover to its own staff.
Designed to be affordable and easy to understand, Equipsme provides businesses with two to 249 employees a flexible and cost-effective way of providing health and wellbeing support for their employees.
Other significant findings from the research include:
- Nearly a quarter of respondents had taken a sick day due to stress.
- More than a third had ‘pulled a sickie’ although they weren’t actually unwell.
- Fewer than half of those surveyed had employers that offered employee benefits like health insurance, mental health support and duvet days.
- 73% of respondents said that an employee benefits package would make them happier at work.
- 94% said that a good employee benefits package makes a prospective employer more attractive.
- Health insurance was the most common employee benefit received by the respondents whose employer provided staff benefits.
- More than one third of those surveyed that had never ‘pulled a sickie’ had an employee benefits package provided by their employer.
- 75% of respondents took at least one day off sick in 2018.
PolicyBee is an independent, digital insurance specialist. Founded in 2011 its aim is to make business and charity insurance painless.