UK companies brace for growing cost from mental health crisis
The shortfall in NHS capacity is putting a strain on EAP providers that companies increasingly rely on
Demand for company-funded mental health services is soaring in the UK, a sign that the private sector is increasingly picking up the tab for a wellbeing crisis the government is struggling to fund.
Health Assured, which provides employee assistance programs for more than 70,000 companies, is forecasting a 16% increase in wellbeing referrals next year.
It has boosted its staff 76% in the last three years to supply more clinical experts who provide services like counseling and referrals for workers who have issues.
The shift reflects a growing mental health crisis in the UK, with a record 1.35 million people out of the labor market long-term due to depression, anxiety or bad nerves, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics. That’s a 40% increase on 2019.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government is concerned about a surge in long-term sickness among those of working age, which is both increasing costs in the National Health Service and leaving the labor market short of people to fill jobs.
That’s in turn driving up wages and feeding inflation, putting pressure on the Bank of England to keep raising interest rates.
The shortfall in NHS capacity is putting a strain on EAP providers that companies increasingly rely on.
Health Assured has increased its trauma-trained network of practitioners by almost 20% in the last year to cope with demand from companies desperate for their services.