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Workplace Wellbeing: The Impact of Counselling and CBT on Employee Mental Health

A common question that HR leaders will be asked is – why do we need to invest in workplace wellbeing? And what support would we need to provide?

To help HR leaders engage in conversation with their peers and C-Suite, we’ve created this handy reference guide to workplace counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – and importantly, how they help improve wellbeing at work. We also provide a quick reference checklist on how to make a start on a comprehensive wellbeing strategy.

Why do companies need workplace wellbeing support?

Many companies don't provide mental health and wellbeing services, such as counselling or therapy. This puts the onus on employees to seek out these services themselves, creating logistical challenges, especially for those unaware of where or how to find relevant support. In countries like the UK and US, access to mental health services is increasingly challenged, with limited supply of therapists as demand for support grows exponentially.

This can mean employees need to seek support privately, which may cause barriers including high therapy costs or the difficulty of finding the right therapist. They might also be reluctant to travel long distances for therapy or be apprehensive about seeking professional help due to potential stigma.

What is workplace wellbeing and why is it important?

Workplace wellbeing refers to the wellbeing of individuals within their work environment. While individuals may have their wellbeing taken care of at home, neglecting their wellbeing in the workplace can have a negative impact on their overall mental health. Workplace wellbeing is often overlooked, leaving workforces at a higher risk for burnout, chronic stress, anxiety, and other mental health complications. Prioritising workplace wellbeing can significantly benefit performance, company culture, job satisfaction, and mitigate mental health problems and employee attrition rates.

Does your business need workplace wellbeing support?

If you’ve noticed a decline in productivity and work performance among your employees and colleagues or if you feel there is a need for improvement in these areas, it may be well worth considering the integration of workplace mental health and wellbeing initiatives.

What is employee counselling and why is it important?

If your employees are displaying symptoms of burnout, chronic stress, low mood, lack of motivation, and/or reporting frequent physical ailments such as headaches, body pains, colds, and flu, they could significantly benefit from counselling services.

Employee counselling serves many important functions, allowing individuals to reflect, grow, and prioritise better, ultimately increasing work satisfaction, productivity, communication, and goal setting. These positive changes are invaluable not only to a company's culture and work dynamic but also to the overall output and long-term success of the business.

Should I provide cognitive behavioural therapy to employees?

In a word: Yes. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has many benefits that can help improve performance and satisfaction at work. CBT is a type of psychotherapeutic treatment that aims to help individuals identify and actively change destructive thought patterns that negatively impact their behaviour and emotions. By learning how to manage thoughts and emotions better, individuals can positively change their behaviour. CBT is effective in treating a wide range of mental health-related issues and disturbances, including anxiety, depression, addiction, eating disorders, phobias, panic attacks, and anger.

Can CBT help with work-related stress?

Most employees experience work-related stress occasionally, which can become dangerous and debilitating if it evolves into chronic stress or anxiety. CBT can tremendously help individuals learn how to better manage stress and adjust their thoughts and behaviors accordingly. The function of CBT is to challenge automatic negative thoughts that contribute to emotional difficulties, stress, depression, or anxiety. Through CBT, these thoughts are identified, challenged, and replaced with more objective, realistic thoughts, which can be especially useful in combating work-related stress.

How can employers offer counselling and CBT to staff?

Counselling and CBT can be administered by qualified psychologists or counsellors, either virtually or in person. However, implementing these wellbeing initiatives for an entire workforce can pose challenges. Fortunately, more and more services are now available remotely via video calls and virtually through mental health AI assistants. Providing access to employees, especially for global companies aiming for benefit parity across different regions, has never been easier.

How can I implement a workplace wellbeing strategy?

We’ve prepared this handy checklist!

  • Carry out a quick survey among employees – seek to understand their key mental health needs, including how they're feeling.
  • Use the information gathered to identify the types of services that will address the key needs identified.
  • Implement changes to internal processes to manage factors within your company's control – consider options like flexible working, mental health first aider training, and leadership training.
  • Conduct a search for mental health and wellbeing support services specialising in helping businesses.
  • Build a business case that showcases current absence levels, including mental health-related absence, and include information on:
    • Average cost of salaries
    • Cost of time lost to absence and mental health-related absence
    • Attrition rates
    • Cost of recruitment to replace leavers – consider HR and manager time lost, agency fees as a percentage of salary, and productivity lost during the replacement period.

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