‘Tis the Season to De-stress – employers urged to explore policies to harness free support

The song says, ‘Tis the season to be jolly!’  However, this is often not the case.  One in 20 people say they find Christmas “more stressful than a burglary*.

Small business owners and their staff often feel the weight of Christmas even more profoundly than others, and left untreated stress can contribute to more serious conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Christine Husbands, managing director, RedArc cautions: 

“Small business owner managers particularly feel the pressure at this time of year with fewer working days; the extra workload; various cold and flu bugs affecting staff; and employees trying to use up leftover annual leave. By the time the twenty-fifth arrives, many are too exhausted or unwell to actually enjoy it.”

Husbands believes that the additional stressors leading up to Christmas can tip people over the edge.  Unfortunately, once mental health problems take hold, they often have long-lasting effects.

Getting early professional support for conditions like stress and depression is important, however getting help on the NHS is increasingly difficult.   While counselling and other therapies are available on the NHS, waiting lists can be very long and the condition will more than likely deteriorate during the wait.

Mental health support is not something Santa is likely to bring in his sack, however small business owners and their staff could find unexpected support as part of a policy they pay for already.  RedArc, a company that offers mental health support to groups such as membership organisations, insurance policyholders and employees is urging small businesses to read the small print of their insurance documents and professional memberships to see what membership benefits they could have access to, possibly even without making a claim.

Often business protection policies (life insurance, critical illness insurance, income protection and private medical insurance) and professional memberships (such as trade associations or groups) include added value benefits such as a telephone helpline, counselling or holistic therapies as part of the policy or membership.  These benefits are often under-utilised – but could prove an unexpected source of support.  You pay for them anyway – so why not make use of them?  

Husbands explains: 

“The pressure to cope under all circumstances is a burden that many business owners feel strongly and particularly at Christmas – but they don’t have to ‘just cope’, free support is usually available via existing policies and memberships.” 

“However, if business owners can’t access support and would like to put something similar in place they should look carefully at the differing options, as there is plenty of choice available. For example, services can range from a light-touch helpline for a one-off telephone call through to long-term support from a dedicated nurse; some purely offer counselling and others make a clinical assessment to determine the most appropriate therapy which could be counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), psychotherapy or others. Some will offer support for the owner manager only as the key person within the business, others will extend the support to all employees.”

RedArc are keen to stress their own Christmas message:

“The fallout from stress and other mental health conditions doesn’t need to be an unwanted Christmas visitor – it can be managed, and managed well – helping you get back to business as usual.”