Sector - Health

UK SMEs call for mental health helpline

New research has revealed that the stigma of mental health remains, as UK SMEs call for a dedicated mental health helpline akin to NHS 111.

Conducted by Close Brothers Asset Finance, the quarterly survey polled 900 SMEs, with 84% supporting the creation of a dedicated mental health helpline.

“Statistically, mental health affects one in four people,” said Neil Davies, CEO of 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 £35Bn last year, according to the Centre for Mental Health.

“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.”

Unfortunately, over half (54%) of all respondents said that those with mental health issues were still stigmatised in the workplace, with Greater London (63%) and Wales (65%) tracking well above the national average.

“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,” continued Neil. “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 is one of the reasons why UK SMEs are calling for a helpline.”

Nationally, nearly two thirds (64%) of UK firms have policies in place to support employees with mental ill health. However, this falls to just 42% for SMEs.

“Many businesses with lower turnover and smaller staff numbers don’t have the capacity or resources to support colleagues with mental ill health and consequently rely on government support,” concluded Neil. “However, only 19% of firms employing ten 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%.”

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