Increasing numbers of people are receiving private mental health treatment, new data has revealed.
Bupa's published figures, which coincide with the health and wellbeing provider's launch of their first annual publication, Bupa Wellbeing Edit, showed a 53 per cent jump over the last ten years. In particular, the number of Bupa members receiving treatment for mental health conditions increased from 12,913 in 2007 to 19,715 in 2016, with specific interventions for stress and anxiety more than doubling since 2007 from 29,916 ten years ago to 69, 537 in 2017.
The survey also suggested there was more openness around mental health in the workplace than previously. One in three said they felt more confident talking to their line manager about mental health issues than they had last year, whilst 36 per cent said workplace attitudes towards mental health conditions have improved. A further 30 per cent felt mental illness is less taboo now than it was a decade ago.
But commenting on Bupa's latest research, Patrick Watt, corporate director for Bupa UK warned there was "no silver bullet for mental health" and urged businesses to ensure holistic wellbeing remains a boardroom objective.
Meanwhile, Charles Alberts, wellbeing expert at Aon Employee Benefits said whilst it was encouraging that more people were accessing support and treatment for mental health, there was "still work to be done."
He explained: "We know that in the UK every year, 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem, yet private medical insurance policies on average see less than 5 per cent of their members accessing treatment for mental health. Employers therefore have an important role to play in helping people access the right support at the right time."
Alberts called on employers to "communicate clearly" with staff about the benefits and services on offer, ensuring they are jargon-free and logical to follow. The majority of private medical insurers also offer members the ability to directly access mental health support, bypassing the need for a GP referral, he added.
Employees using the service are assessed by a clinician via telephone who would then signpost to the most appropriate level of support. According to Alberts, who said the triage system used by these services can be "invaluable" for individuals during times of trauma, there was potential for further market development for services which help to "navigate" individuals to better health.
The Bupa research is one of a number of surveys into attitudes around mental health. In May, Aon reported that 75 per cent of respondents to a Mind survey said they were "unlikely" to seek support from their manager if they were experiencing a mental health problems whilst a BBC Radio 5 survey revealed that half of working adults said they would not talk to their boss if they were struggling with depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder.
Alberts added: "We need to recognise that what works for one person won't necessarily work for another. What all these studies reveal however, is that employers absolutely should ensure that there is a common understanding of their businesses' approach to mental health so that employees can access support."
"Talking openly - or not - about mental health is a personal matter and there are of course a number of factors which influence this decision. But we need to acknowledge that the ability to talk openly about this issue is a positive objective for all parties. What employers can do is strive to create an environment where employees feel safe to talk about their mental health, free from fear of discrimination."