22 May 2017 - Q1 2017 saw a 12.9% increase in calls to the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) for Canada Life’s Group Income Protection (GIP) customers compared with Q1 2016. Calls to the service, provided by AXA PPP healthcare, in Q1 2017 were also 3.7% up on those taken in the fourth quarter of 2016.
In 2016, 24% of Canada Life’s Group Income Protection claims were for mental health problems – the single biggest cause of claims.
Paul Avis, Marketing Director for Canada Life Group Insurance, said:
“We genuinely believe that as an insurer we should be providing support services to employees of our customer organisations as well as the financial benefit provided by Group Income Protection. EAPs can have a significant impact in prevention of sickness absence but also support those currently absent to reduce the length of their absence. Working closely with AXA PPP healthcare both parties want this service actively used and promoted and we are completely on board with de-stigmatising mental illness. This is especially important in the workplace.
“Regrettably, there are always instances where employees become absent from work but having the right support from day one of absence can make a huge difference. In 2016, 93% of employees referred to our Early Intervention Service (EIS) did not become claimants. Additionally, where EIS was used in the first four weeks of an employee’s absence, the average return to work time was just five weeks (across all conditions). With 57% of EIS referrals in 2016 made for mental health conditions, compared with 24% of all claims (with and without EIS usage), this truly demonstrates the importance of early intervention in this vital area of employee health. 95% of those referred to us using EIS mental health interventions did not result in claims and, with an average duration of 8 weeks absence, this really shows the positive impact we can have in resolving these absence scenarios when employers involve us early.
“And therein lies the real opportunity – engaging with both EAP and EIS can provide the best possible outcome for both employers and employees. In the opening up of the mental health Pandora’s box both AXA PPP healthcare and Canada Life are brilliantly positioned and committed to supporting those in real times of need and so we would urge all employers to embrace both services for their and their employees’ benefit.”
Dr Mark Winwood, Director of Psychological Services for AXA PPP healthcare, added:
“Mental health problems are all too common in the workplace and are a leading cause of sickness absence – a staggering 70 million work days are lost each year due to mental health problems in the UK, costing employers approximately £26 billion per year.* EAPs have traditionally been used to tackle mental health and stress risks in the workplace but utilisation of these services seldom reflects the actual incidence or impact of this.
“It is really encouraging to see such a striking increase in EAP usage in the Canada Life portfolio of organisations. As a provider we have been encouraged to actively promote the EAP as Canada Life believes in its intrinsic value to the health of its customers’ workforces in both preventing and supporting sickness absence resolution.
“Is this telling us that these employees are more stressed or living with more mental problems than the same period last year? I think not. There has been a huge increase in activity specifically aimed at reducing the stigma associated with mental health, and this activity has extended into the workplace. The Time to Change initiative, which has been extremely successful, has seen measureable reduction in negative attitude to mental illness in the workplace especially in those organisations who subscribe to the ’Time to Change Challenge’ and hold regular ’Time to Talk’ days.
“Reducing stigma is by far the most powerful method of increasing usage of the mental health services, and getting those experiencing problems the help and support they need. Celebrity endorsement of mental health and its implications also has a massive roll to pay alongside the personal disclosure of mental health struggles of high profile individuals such as members of the Royal Family. This has the impact of normalising the very human vulnerability of mental health problems. Heads Together, which featured heavily in this year’s London Marathon, has also raised awareness and targeted stigma.
“Organisations are increasingly focusing on mental wellbeing and appreciate that there is a moral and financial advantage of doing this. Awareness sessions are being organised for managers and staff along with an increase in Mental Health First Aid training being delivered.
“The government is being pressurised to increasing spending on mental health in the NHS and this issue will feature heavily, I’m confident, during the election campaign. As well as targeted EAP promotion the above societal and organisational changes have a huge role to play in the increase in EAP usage that is being experienced by Canada Life.”
*Centre for Mental Health (2007). Mental health at work: developing the business case: