Running from 10th-16th May, the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is ‘Nature’. During the pandemic many of us turned to nature as a way of relieving the anxiety of lockdowns and restrictions. Research by the Mental Health Foundation on the impact on our mental health during the pandemic showed that going for walks outside was one of the top coping strategies and 45% of people claimed being in green spaces had been vital for their mental health.

With most of the UK workforce continuing to work from home for the foreseeable future, it is more important than ever to reach out to those around us on a regular basis. For those living with poor mental health or living with a diagnosed mental illness, many have experienced prolonged periods of isolation, loneliness and despair and are likely struggling to manage in this “new world”.

Sadly, after many years of underfunding for mental health services that are accessible to all, the current provisions are stretched to breaking point despite the urgent and growing need for such services.

We all deserve to feel safe and supported when talking about our mental health.

However, mental health stigma leaves people feeling isolated and ashamed. People feel that they will be treated differently if they are known to be living with a mental illness and, as a result, many keep themselves to themselves because of the fear and at worst, this fear often prevents people getting support, finding employment, or having open conversations.

Encouraging conversations around mental health can only help to break down the barriers and perceived stigma around the topic, turning it into an everyday conversation. One person in every four people will be affected by a mental disorder at some stage of their lives and this is only on reported and diagnosed cases which means, the actual numbers could be so much higher.

The economic consequences of the pandemic are already being felt, with many organisations having to let their staff go and, in many cases, have lost their business completely. Given our past experiences of global emergencies we can expect the need for mental health provision to expand.

Creating a wellness programme is a great way to support your staff’s wellbeing and mental health. There are many resources online that you can use, such as our Mental Health Support Pack, or Health@Work’s 7C s of Wellbeing Design.

For a more direct approach to mental health support and intervention for employees, organisations with an employer-paid cash plan already in place can upgrade this to include a full Employee Assistance Programme.

This includes industry-leading wellbeing benefits provided by Care first, such as a 24/7 telephone counselling helpline, up to 8 face-to-face counselling sessions per issue, online information and support, as well as access to Woebot – a new artificial intelligence counselling app which can offer ‘in the moment’ emotional support to more employees than any other clinical method.

If you don’t have an employer-paid cash plan in place with Medicash but would like to provide Care first’s counselling services for your employees, the Employee Assistance Programme is available as a standalone product through our sister company Health@Work.

The standalone option gives employers the option to combine the EAP with access to the mProve YOURSELF App containing over 70 guided fitness videos and more than 50 hours of mindfulness courses. Gym Discounts can be also added on to the EAP, creating a well-rounded wellbeing package caring for a healthy mind and body.


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