It helps to talk about it. For years that's been the crux of the message from mental health practitioners, but it can be difficult for employers to achieve.
Companies offer employee assistance programmes (EAPs) to help staff navigate challenges in their personal lives. Our understanding of mental health has shifted dramatically in the past 50 years, yet EAPs can be traced back to the first half of the 20th century, when early programmes designed to help treat alcoholism were launched.
While modern benefits have a far greater range of mental health treatments, EAPs today still lack the ability to connect with each employee personally, according to UK provider Unmind, which is striving to ensure mental health is universally understood, nurtured and celebrated.
Unmind announced today the launch of its new preventative employee wellbeing programme, Unmind Talk, to coincide with the UK's observance of "Time to Talk Day", dedicated to prompting conversations around mental health. Time to Talk Day is led by two leading UK emotional health charities, Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.
Unmind Talk was created to bring diversity and personalisation to employee mental health support. The programme resulted from Unmind's recent acquisition of Frankie Health, an Irish B2B employee counselling platform.
Since joining Unmind, Frankie Health's platform has been strengthened and now offers access to counsellors fluent in 50 languages. The platform's interface is claimed to take just four clicks to connect an employee to therapeutic support, and not just a single 20-minute session. Employees are promised an appropriate treatment duration for what their experiencing, all accessed through digital channels.
Unmind has also brought Frankie Health's strengths in personal therapy to its global B2B customers, employing therapists in most major time zones. Its clients include Major League Baseball, Uber and British Airways.
While Frankie Health is now part of Unmind, the Irish startup's co-founders James McGann and Seb Poole have stayed on board to lend their expertise.
Poole argued traditional EAP programmes were no longer fit for purpose, with a very small percentage of employees actually choosing to access the service, even though mental health is a universal concern. EAP resources are often constrained, so there's no guarantee an employee will even receive treatment.
"Despite the growing need for mental health support in the workplace, traditional EAP call centres are often unable to meet the demands of employees," Poole said. " In fact, only 5% of employees phone their EAP's call centre, and 42% of callers are rejected for therapy due to limited sessions and low-quality therapy services.
"We can make so much more of an impact by providing a modern, progressive solution with easy access to expert practitioners.”