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Complex mental health issues

Mental health: The importance of person-led support for serious conditions

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Support for employees with mental health conditions needs to be personalised and dovetail seamlessly with other employer-provided mental health services, so that those employees who are suffering can easily access the help that they need.

 

1st Mar 2022
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Mental health support has progressed from being ‘nice-to-have’ to being a true business imperative, according to the Harvard Business Review in October 2021.

The majority of companies have at least one externally provided mental health support service in place, most commonly an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).

Mental health support has progressed from being ‘nice-to-have’ to being a true business imperative.

The term ‘mental illness’ covers a wide range of conditions and severities, ranging from mild anxiety or depression, through to complex disorders and addictions. This means that in order to provide effective support, mental illness services must cater for all eventualities.

Whilst light-touch mental health support can be very beneficial for many, they need to be supplemented with comprehensive personalised support for the individuals with complex, long-term issues.

Limitations

Although it is very important that these services are offered by employers, it’s equally important to understand their limitations and have solutions in place for those with more complex needs.

NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) recommends 6 – 10 sessions of counselling for mild/moderate conditions, with most commonly-used mental health services offering at best a maximum of 8 sessions, with many offering a much lower amount, if any.

So it’s clear that many services don’t provide enough support to anyone with conditions of a more complex nature, and professionals will not commence therapy if they don’t feel the number of sessions available will be sufficient to properly address the issues.

Some services specifically exclude certain conditions, such as severe depression, PTSD, and personality disorders.

In addition, some services specifically exclude certain conditions and/or severities, such as severe depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and personality disorders.

The consequence is that some employees are turned away by the support service, leaving them to search out other help, face a long wait for NHS services, or even worse – do nothing.

Not surprisingly, this can be a devastating blow for someone who has taken the extremely difficult step to reach out for help, which can obviously have a detrimental effect on their mental health.

Complex needs

Whilst the majority of employees can be helped very effectively by some mental health support services, those with more complex needs are often not catered for.

This is the population that need the most help, many of whom have no other option but to face a long wait for NHS services, during which time they may well deteriorate and become a long-term absentee.

Employees with more complex mental illness needs are often not catered for. 

Therefore, employers would be wise to ensure they have access to a more comprehensive service that is available for employees with more complex needs.

Experienced professionals such as mental health nurses can provide confidential, personalised support. This can be achieved by addressing issues holistically, assessing risks, and working with the individual to produce a tailored plan, which takes all needs and circumstances into account.

Tailored plans might encompass the following: 

  • Self-care tools.
  • Coping strategies.
  • Short-term goal setting.
  • Assessment of therapy requirements, which ensures that the most appropriate therapy is identified and arranged with a supplier with the relevant experience.

For those with long-term, complex needs, NHS services are also often required.

Whilst individuals wait for these to commence, specialist mental health nurses can play a vital role in bridging the gap, by ensuring that the individual is supported as much as possible during this period. 

Summary

Ideally, comprehensive personalised support will dovetail seamlessly with other employer-provided mental health services, so that those employees who are very unwell can easily get the help that they need.

At times of significant mental ill health, reaching out for help can be extremely difficult, and in our experience many people don’t. Even those who do, often put it off until they are in an emergency or crisis situation.

It is always better to have support in place ready for when it might be needed.

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