In 2018, almost two-fifths (39%) of employees made use of return-to-work support following time off for mental health conditions, such as stress and anxiety, according to research by employee benefits provider Unum.
The Sickness absence and return to work trends report, which analysed access to Unum’s rehabilitation services in the UK in 2018, further found that return-to-work support was provided to 1,670 ill or injured individuals over the course of last year; 94% were able to agree an outcome with their employer and 75% were able to successfully return to work. In 2018, a total of 7,241 people used Unum’s rehabilitation services.
Peter O’Donnell, chief executive officer at Unum, said: “We believe employers have an important role to play in building healthy and inclusive work environments, where those with mental health concerns are fully supported.”
Other reasons employees took advantage of return-to-work support include musculoskeletal disorders (18%), cancer (7%), heart and circulation complaints (4%) and general injuries (3%).
More than half (55%) of men sought return-to-work support compared to 45% of women in 2018; 57% of men specifically used return-to-work provisions to tackle mental health issues, rising to 68% of men under 30. Of the 646 individuals who used Unum’s rehabilitation services for mental health-related reasons in 2018, 476 were able to return to work.
In 2018, Unum paid more than £42 million to group income protection claimants suffering with mental health conditions.
Dr Syed Zakir Abbas, chief medical officer at Unum, added: “Decreasing stigma around mental health problems and better understanding of the benefits of early support could be contributing to more employees using our services, particularly younger men, which is a positive development.
“Having access to early intervention resources for employees suffering mental ill-health can be key to supporting recovery.”