Monday 17 February 2020

*GUEST BLOG* Flexible Mental Health Support - a Must for Business Travellers

There are few who would criticise moves towards ending the shame and secrecy surrounding mental health. The change in how we perceive and talk about mental health has come quickly. Even five years ago those unfamiliar with mental ill-health were to some extent sheltered from others’ reality. Now we can all readily absorb the newly shared private tortures of people experiencing depression, anxiety, self-harm or any other mental health issue or condition.

And as the extent to which mental health is affecting all of us becomes clear, so too has the need to address what is a growing and unmet demand for support.

Employers are no exception here. They bear a moral and legal responsibility for employees who are increasingly demanding support. Financially too there is reason to review existing provision: Deloitte and Mind estimate that poor mental health provision costs UK companies more than £43 billion annually.

For employers with staff who travel extensively, the picture becomes ever more complex. Not only do those employees need access to the same benefit package as their counterparts in the office, but they need a huge degree of flexibility and scope in the type of mental health support service they can access.

A recent survey by Capita showed that 33% of business travellers said that travelling to meetings has affected their sleep, with almost a quarter saying that their early start or late finish caused by travel has resulted in an argument with a partner. A significant 41% of respondents said they worked beyond their core hours when travelling for work.

A paper published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine looking at business travel and behavioural and mental health stated: “ travel is...associated with jetlag, sleep disorders, stress and anxiety, increased alcohol consumption, exposure to high energy density ‘‘fast’’ foods, and long periods of sedentary behaviour.”

Our own survey found almost half of business travellers feel that their employer does not provide them with the right type of mental health support.

But what support does this cohort of workers need?

Interestingly, we also found that demand for online chat-based mental health support was twice as high amongst business travellers (41%) compared to office based workers. And one of the top reasons cited by business travellers as an important aspect of a mental health support service was out-of-hours availability.

So while we know that stigma is a significant barrier to getting help, there are practical reasons too why some people can’t or don’t get the support they need. The demand for a flexible support service which can work alongside travelling workers is clear.

According to Dr Lynne Green, Chief Clinical Director at Kooth Work, tractability is key: “Employees across the world are increasingly flexible and don’t all conform to the traditional nine to five pattern of work. Staff therefore need flexibility in terms of mental health and wellbeing support. They need something they can access whether at the airport at 9pm or sitting at their kitchen table with jetlag at three in the morning. Easy and early access to support is key for all of us.”

So while we welcome anti-stigma campaigns as critical in helping as many people as possible to get help, we know we must turn our attention to the support that is available when and if they decide to talk. For employers of business travellers, this means ensuring you have a flexible service which allows staff to use it on their terms. One that means they can get the help they need when they need it - wherever they might be.

Kooth Work are this year's Wellness Retreat sponsor. Register for FREE and visit them at the Wellness Retreat where they'll be presenting their recent findings on mental health in travel

1 comment:

  1. Impressive Post! I was very much glad to see the information, such an outstanding thoughts for us. Looking for Fast track vip airport assistance Services, Visit Jodogo Wing