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More than a quarter of long-term absences related to mental health 

New figures from Unum reveal that mental health issues accounted for 27% of Income Protection claims in 2014.
  • New figures from Unum reveal that mental health issues accounted for more than a quarter (27%) of Income Protection claims in 2014
  • The figures indicate the importance of workplace support for mental health related illness
  • Unum is launching a brand new training module for HR professionals on how to manage mental health in the workplace

New figures from financial protection specialist Unum reveal that mental health issues accounted for 27% of Income Protection claims in 2014. This supports previous research which has estimated 1 in 4 people now experience mental health problems at some point in their life [1], causing more than 70 million working days to be lost each year [2].

According to Unum, the most common mental health claim is reactive depression [3]], with other conditions such as anxiety stress and bipolar disorder also leading to employees taking extended periods of time off work. As well as having a huge impact on individual employees, poor mental health has severe repercussions for employers, including increased staff turnover, sickness absence due to debilitating depression, burnout and exhaustion, decreased motivation and lost productivity.

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week (11th – 17th May), Unum is releasing a brand new training module to help HR professionals put mental health on the agenda. The free resource provides advice to help HR managers safeguard the mental health of staff, spot and address problems before they become too severe, and support staff when issues do emerge.

Joy Reymond, head of rehabilitation services at Unum, commented: “One of the biggest barriers to managing mental problems is the reluctance of staff to discuss these issues and while companies of all shapes and sizes increasingly understand the importance of good mental health, many simply don’t feel confident handling and communicating these issues in the workplace.

“Our training module on mental health provides practical ways for HR managers to improve and build awareness of this important issue.

“A robust employee benefits package can financially support employees if they need time away from work, but it can also be used earlier on to help prevent the problems from developing. Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) provide valuable counselling services to employees while Income Protection products provide staff with a replacement income of up to 80% if they are unable to work for long periods, as well as vocational rehabilitation services to help them to return to work when they are ready.”

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