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Call for mental health helpline as stigma remains

A large majority of SME owners are calling for a mental health helpline, according to a new survey by Close Brothers Asset Finance.

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A mental health helpline would help support employees, say Britain’s SMEs

As many as 84 percent of SMEs are in favour of a helpline, similar to the NHS 111 service, that is dedicated to dealing with mental health issues.

A significant portion, 54 percent to be precise, believe those suffering with mental health issues are still stigmatised in the workplace. The figure rises to 63 percent for the Greater London area.

“Statistically, mental health affects one in four people,” says Neil Davies, chief executive officer at Close Brothers Asset Finance. “It’s clear that it impacts both individuals and businesses in a multitude of ways, including economically. For example, mental health problems in the UK workforce cost employers almost £35 bn last year, according to the Centre for Mental Health.

The Mental Health Foundation says that mental illness is the leading cause of absence from work, with a staggering 70 million workdays lost every year due to mental illness, including anxiety, depression and stress-related conditions.

… businesses of all sizes and across all sectors would find it more helpful to refer employees to a single resource

“Anything that can be done to get people the correct help, quickly, can only benefit both those affected and the people around them, and while there are multiple helplines available, our research is telling us is that – in the first instance - businesses of all sizes and across all sectors would find it more helpful to refer employees to a single resource,” adds Davies.
“According to the Mental Health foundation, the social stigma attached to mental ill health and the discrimination people experience can make their difficulties worse and make it harder to recover,” says Davies. “However, what they also say is that most people who experience mental health problems recover fully, or are able to live with and manage them, especially if they get help early on, which one of the reasons why UK SMEs are calling for a helpline.”

Encouragingly, nearly two thirds of firms already have policies in place to support employees with mental health issues, but this falls to 42 percent for smaller firms. The issue of support lies with smaller businesses.

Davies says many smaller businesses do not have the resources to provide this support, and therefore look to government support. “Only 19% of firms employing 10 or fewer people feel that there are sufficient government services – including advice services – for SMEs to help support employees with mental ill health, compared to the national average of 39%,” he comments.

Does your company have a mental health policy in place? Email summer@linkpublishing.co.uk or reach out on Twitter to have your say.

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