This year’s Mental Health Foundation Mental Health Awareness Week runs from 13-19th May. With mental health high on the agenda, there’s an opportunity for practices to focus on employee mental and physical wellbeing. Simplyhealth has now launched Optimise Health Plans so that practices can support their staff by providing a range of health and wellbeing benefits to employees. The plans include a free myWellbeing service, which provides 24/7 telephone counselling, as well as online resources and cashback on health checks to ensure all staff have access to mental and physical health support.
Mental health and access to support
A focus on wellbeing in the veterinary workplace is especially important to maintain positive mental and physical health. A Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) survey of vets found that almost 90% reported veterinary work is stressful.* Often, veterinary staff find it difficult to access support services due to long working hours and shift patterns.
The Optimise plan includes round the clock free telephone advice from GPs and trained counsellors. Simplyhealth Professional’s Head Veterinary Officer, Gudrun Ravetz, says “Veterinary practice is a 24/7 job and it can be difficult for the veterinary team to access GP and counselling appointments during the day and of course, a mental or physical health crisis can hit at any time of the day or night. Access to the telephone care line ensures staff can freely access potentially life-saving advice and support at their time of greatest need, no matter when or where.”
Healthy lifestyle and wellbeing
Mental health goes beyond the workplace, affecting relationships, finances and physical health. The online myWellbeing portal includes relationship advice, such as support with childcare and eldercare responsibilities. Also covered is financial and legal advice including budgets, consumer rights and dispute resolution. Leisure activities are encouraged with discounts on sports equipment, gym membership and healthy family days out.
While vets champion health checks for their patients, they sometimes don’t access those same services themselves due to the demands of their job. Optimise health plans provide employees with free health evaluation tools and cashback is available on vital services including sight tests, dental treatment, diagnostics, physiotherapy and even prescription costs.
Mental health and performance at work
Nearly half of all employers recognise employee wellbeing is linked to performance and reduced absence from work.**
Gudrun notes that recruitment and retention is a live issue in practice right now, “By providing access to talking therapies and removing some of the barriers to self-care, the Simplyhealth Optimise plans aim to support practices who want to ensure their staff can easily access the tools they need to maintain a healthy mind and body. Knowing that your practice cares enough about your wellbeing to put a care plan in place is very attractive to new recruits and existing staff alike.”
Practice owners and managers can find out more by talking to their Simplyhealth Professionals Business Consultant, visit www.simplyhealthprofessionals.co.uk or call 0800 328 3233.
*Institute for Employment Studies, 2014
**CIPD Absence Management survey 2016