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Employee mental health on the up for 2023

Nearly three quarters (70%) of employers believe employee mental health will improve in 2023, according to research from Koa Health.

A majority (77%) of employers said workers are using mental health benefits more than they were at the beginning of the year.

Nearly all (93%) companies are now offering mental health benefits of some kind, while a further 44% said they plan to openly and visibly practise mental wellbeing habits in the workplace in the new year. 

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Vicky Walker, group director of people at Westfield Health, said financial wellbeing should be a top priority for employers going into the new year. 

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “With the cost of living crisis set continue in 2023, financial wellbeing needs to be top of HR teams' agendas. Personal finances can be a complicated and emotive topic, so businesses can help by signposting employees to dedicated providers and tools where they can get specialist financial support.

"Mental health first aiders should also have updated training to make sure they’re ready to signpost those with financial worries to helpful resources.

“It's not just about the initiatives you put in place, it’s about making sure people are aware of them and that the wellbeing support you’ve invested in reaches the team members who really need it. As the people closest to their team members, managers are often best placed to spot when someone is struggling and to highlight what support is available."

Almost two thirds (60%) of businesses agreed personal financial concerns have a significant negative impact on employee mental health, closely followed by workplace culture (52%), which includes work environment, workload, flexible hours and relationships with managers.

Training for managers could be valuable for improving employee mental health, Walker added.

She said: "Knowing how to talk about wellbeing with team members can be hard, and it’s important it’s done in a positive, supportive way. Providing line manager training on watching out for wellbeing red flags and how to have sensitive, productive conversations with their team is a great investment in 2023 to ensure that all team members have someone they can turn to, and any wellbeing issues are being spotted and supported early."

Data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published in November 2022 showed the UK lost 17 million working days to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2021/22.

Jennifer Gendron, global chief commercial officer at Koa Health, said HR leaders need to make sure they're well-equipped.

She told HR magazine: "I think companies will significantly elevate and strengthen their mental health strategies next year. While it’s positive to see that more businesses plan to be open about mental health in the workplace, it’s imperative that HR leaders have a structured plan on how to ensure all of their unique populations have preventative tools to support mental wellbeing and the ability to get help when they need it most.

"In a global survey of 40,000 people, the Mental Health Million Project revealed that more than half of people experiencing mental health challenges won’t seek traditional care, citing preference for self-help and distrust of the healthcare system. Evidence-based digital solutions are a great way to provide more low-friction and accessible and adjustable mental health support in the moment of need."

Koa Health surveyed 250 senior HR managers in the UK in November 2022.