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Help for companies concerned for their staff’s mental wellbeing

National institute for health and clinical excellence NICE logo

As a result of research undertaken by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) on mental wellbeing in the workplace, guidance has been produced on promoting mental wellbeing through productive and healthy working conditions.

 

NICE states that mental wellbeing is a dynamic state, in which the individual is able to develop their potential, work productively and creatively, build strong and positive relationships with others and contribute to their community. It is enhanced when an individual is able to fulfill their personal and social goals and achieve a sense of purpose in society.

 

The main causes of long-term sickness absence of 4 weeks or more among manual workers are acute medical conditions, followed by back pain, musculoskeletal conditions, stress and mental health problems.

 

Among non manual workers, stress is the number one cause of long term sickness absence, followed by acute medical conditions, mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, musculoskeletal conditions and back pain.

 

Evidence also suggests that mental ill health may result in presenteeism rather than absenteeism where employees may be concerned by the stigma related to mental ill health and attend work when they are unfit to do so.

 

Research by the Mental Health Foundation finds: 

  1. Massage has been shown to reduce levels of anxiety, stress and depression in some people 

  2. Reflexology has been shown to aid relaxation, relieve stress and restore energy. It can help to reduce the side effects of psychotropic medication and can moderate the highs and lows of mood swings

  3. Research into nutritional and dietary medicine has demonstrated that food sensitivities may cause psychiatric symptoms, whilst a lack of folic acid has been associated with depression and schizophrenia and the supplementation of certain amino acids has been shown to relieve depression

  4. Acupuncture can have a positive effect for some people diagnosed with schizophrenia

  5. Transcendental Meditation, hypnotherapy, yoga, exercise, relaxation, massage and aromatherapy have all been shown to have some effect in reducing stress, tension and anxiety and in alleviating mental distress.

 

Private health insurance policies differ greatly in what they offer on mental health. Many exclude it completely. Others offer in-patient and out-patient treatment, while some only offer out-patient treatment. Limits by amount or number of days usually mean that the cover only helps on short-term problems, not for those needing long-term help.

 

Health cash policies rarely provide help for mental health, but can offer the cover many of the treatments found to reduce the problem.

 

Income protection polices provide help for individuals and companies, but most exclude mental health and many restrict or exclude cover on back problems.

Health insurance: News update: 3 December 2009