Dan Parton (03/04/2012) hopes a few more employers will take heed of the benefits of workplace counselling:
Results from a survey of staff at the University of Cambridge,which found that even a short burst of counselling can make a positive difference to the lives and productivity of people suffering from problems like anxiety, stress or depression,demonstrate that mental health services have a role in the workplace - if only more employers would recognise this.
The study found that 70% of the staff concerned experienced a"clinically significant" upswing in mental health after receiving workplace counselling, which enabled them to cope more effectively with their working lives.
But it seems that fewer and fewer employees now have access to such services, as Rick Hughes, lead advisor at BACP Workplace, a division of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, said: "Throughout the UK, workplace counselling services are facing significant cuts and in many cases closure as organisations seek to reduce costs."
If the results of this survey are to be believed, it could be a false economy for employers to cut counselling services. It is well known that in times of recession, stress levels increase, in the workplace as well as the home, especially if there are worries about jobs, for instance. And, when employees are suffering from stress, anxiety or depression, it stands to reason that they will not be as productive as they could be.
So, while employers may look to cut costs in the face of continuing economic uncertainty, they should think twice about axing services such as workplace counselling. Justifying services that don't obviously contribute to the bottom line can often be tricky, but counselling can have real benefits. Such relatively low-level - and inexpensive - interventions can even save money by helping to stop mental health problems escalating, which could end up costing the employer more, not only in lost productivity but in sick pay and in finding temporary cover, if the person involved has to take time off.
To me, it is a no-brainer to keep the service on, and Hughes summed things up perfectly: "If employees really are the most important resource within an organisation, then it is crucial that organisations fulfil their duty of care and make available to staff a range of accessible counselling support interventions."