Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can help manage stress at work

The affects of stress in the workplace can be fixed with cognitive behavioural therapy, a new study suggests.

Stress affects the majority of companies, with 73 per cent of firms saying that stress has been an issue for them in the last three years, but cognitive behavioural therapy can help manage the problem, according to new research from Jelf Employee Benefits.

Further, 85 per cent of companies believe it will be an increasing risk for their business, yet 75 per cent don’t have a policy to manage stress and only 5 per cent believe their line managers and employees are aware of the help available.

However, help is available and the company is pointing employers in the direction of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This is an effective way to deal with a range of mental health issues, and is often included in standalone, comprehensive Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs). Jelf believes including cognitive behavioural therapy is vital to an EAP benefit being successful.

CBT, however is not included in every EAP programme and even less so where the EAP is an add-on to other insurances such as PMI, cash plans or group risk. Jelf warns employers that an EAP without CBT is not as effective a solution as one with CBT.

Chris Cannon, business development manager for Jelf Employee Benefits, advises that support is available for companies struggling to contain stress at work.

Cannon says, ‘CBT may only be one element within an EAP but it is an important one in terms of supporting employees through stressful situations.

‘An employee who seeks support via their EAP’s telephone or face-to-face counselling service could find that their treatment options are limited if CBT was not offered as part of their EAP package, leaving them forced to arrange their own ongoing treatment when they are at their most vulnerable.’

CBT has been proven to have a significant impact on stress and anxiety – and in some cases, to be as effective as medication. It teaches the patient coping skills for dealing with different problems.

According to the Office of National Statistics’ Labour Force Survey, 45 million days were lost to stress, anxiety and depression last year alone, costing the economy £2.4 billion. With the average cost of an EAP that includes CBT ranging from £5-£15 per month per employee, Jelf Employee Benefits believes there is a strong case for all employers to consider EAPs to help reduce workplace absenteeism.

Cannon concludes, ‘CBT is considered the gold standard in the treatment of anxiety disorders, and employers would be wise to ensure it is part of their EAP programme – not simply because of its immediate effectiveness, but employees learn skills that they will carry forward too. The business case could not be simpler.’

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  1. Actually, all the evidence is pointing to a third generation CBT, called ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), as being the most effective solution to workplace stress. ACT can be delivered via an e-therapy and self-managed format and is very much about prevention and protection as well as treatment. I can’t see any of the EAP providers catching onto this as yet, but I know there is a Finnish company now starting to bring the ACT solution to the UK.

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