We’ve stressed the importance of counselling in the workplace in our response to a Government consultation on how illness can affect people’s work.

The Health is Everyone’s Business consultation, which closed today, asked for views on proposals for different ways the government and employers can take action to reduce ill health-related job loss and keep people in work.

The government has said it wants to support and encourage early intervention by employers for their employees with long-term health conditions, and improve access to quality, cost-effective occupational health.

We welcome the proposals but feel the focus on occupational health providers is too narrow – and needs to include more about the allied professions that can make a difference to employees’ mental health and wellbeing.

Package of support

Kris Ambler, our Workforce Lead, said: “We’d like these proposals to have a greater focus on how mental health impacts people’s working lives and look for solutions that include workplace counselling as part of a package of support.

“We’ve highlighted the difference this support can make to employees and employers and why investing workplace counselling makes financial, ethical and moral sense.

Our response to the consultation focuses on five key areas:

  • the importance of early intervention,
  • equality in how mental health and physical health are regarded in the workplace,
  • a thriving market for high quality, holistic, workplace support,
  • equality of access to support for all employees
  • business-friendly information and advice.

Early intervention

Kris added: “Counselling as an early intervention can make a real difference between an employee being happy and productive, and someone who is struggling to cope with their working day.

“We believe that counselling service providers are a missing voice in this consultation – and hope we have mitigated that with our submission.

“At the moment, businesses are required to provide a certain level of support by legislation. We believe they shouldn’t be offering the bare minimum just so they can comply with the law. But we recognise there are many barriers, especially for smaller businesses. The Government needs to think about how it can subsidise this support so that employees can benefit from talking to qualified, professional counsellors when they need to.”

As well as our own organisational response, we’re also signatories on submissions from the Council for Work and Health and the John Lewis Partnership’s ‘Working Well Coalition’, which promote similar themes to our response.