A really good piece appeared in the Financial Times on mental health and EAP’s. The need for employee assistance has skyrocketed. But here and in England this has now become a crisis. Especially in the context of getting proper medication and therapy. Here are a few excerpts:
- Employee assistance programs are usually pretty dull affairs. For a few decades now, employers have paid EAP providers to run phone lines their employees can call if they need support with personal problems. The idea is to provide some short-term support — a handful of counselling sessions, say — to help staff deal with mild problems before they get worse. But this year, EAPs have found themselves facing a swelling wave of complex mental health problem.
- A recent report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation highlighted the striking link between antidepressant use and deprivation: in 2021/22, more than twice as many patients were prescribed antidepressant drugs from practices in the most deprived areas in England than in the least deprived areas. The problem with leaning more on employers to provide mental health support during this time is that not everyone has access to such programs.
- People on low pay, insecure contracts or no work at all are less likely to have such a safety net. They will need as much help as the money-constrained state can spare. Some interventions don’t have to be very costly, such as integrating talking therapies with debt advice. Other policies that would help are already on the table but need to be implemented, such as government plans to make life in the rental sector less insecure.
- Leaving people to cope on their own will store up more problems, both for them and the economy as a whole. Already, a rising share of people say they are too ill to work. Although the over-50s are the biggest driver of this trend, there is also a worrying rise in inactive young people. For them, the biggest cause of long-term sickness is mental illness, phobias and nervous disorders, up 24 per cent since 2019. Economic problems are hard for people at the best of times, and these are not the best of times. How well or badly we handle this moment will have ramifications long into the future.
“The Mental Health Recession is Deepening.” Financial Times (Nov. 22, 2022).