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UK workers need their employers to provide access to stress counselling

More than half of UK employees need a stress counselling service from their employer to help them deal with the pressures of the workplace, new research reveals.

According to the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy's (BACP) 2010 Attitudes to Counselling and Psychotherapy survey, 54% want their employer to provide a confidential counselling service to enable to them to deal with the effects of the recession.

And more than three quarters (78%) now believe that workplace stress is an acceptable reason to seek counselling and psychotherapy, compared with just 44% in 2004.

The survey of 1,440 people across the UK also revealed 29% want their employer to provide them with more emotional support to enable them to deal with stress in the workplace, whether that is caused by work, personal problems imported into work or a combination of both.

The desire for more support in the workplace seems to stem largely from the belief among 84% of respondents that the recession has made it more likely that people need counselling and psychotherapy. Particular issues they believed it could help with included the emotional difficulties caused by financial loss, workplace stress and relationship breakdowns.

Rick Hughes, BACP workplace lead adviser, said: "Ten years ago there was sometimes a stigma regarding accessing counselling for personal or work-related issues. Today not only do we see an increasing acceptability but also a clear demand from employees for their employers to provide some form of access to counselling services.  Organisations that provide counselling services for staff overwhelmingly find this translates to a multitude of positive benefits, including reduced absence, lower presenteeism, enhanced employee satisfaction, reduced accidents and improved productivity.

"Aside from the organisational cost benefits, the moral and social responsibility helps to foster a greater buy-in and commitment from employees. The economic downturn is likely to increase presenteeism, already costing organisations twice as much as absence. The inclination to work more for less will invariably impact negatively on the emotional and psychological health of employees. Providing counselling services for staff will go some way to mitigate these adverse effects."