Index: many Aussies prefer in-person mental health support

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Mental health therapy that works

LifeWorks, a provider of digital and in-person total wellbeing solutions, has released its monthly Mental Health Index this week, revealing a negative mental-health score among Australians for the 20th consecutive month.

The key findings from the Index include:

  • The overall mental-health score of -12.2 compared to the pre-pandemic benchmark, a slight decline from the previous month (-11.8 in October).
  • The mental-health score of managers (-11.2) has improved from the previous month (-11.7 in October) while the mental-health score of non-managers (-12.3) has declined (-11.2 in October).

While the acceptance of digital and video mental-health support is high, the Index reveals that almost half of working Australians have a preference for in-person mental-health support.

  • 38% of Australians report in-person support with a counsellor as their preferred modality for mental-health support and another 10% prefer a combination of in-person and digital support.
  • 28% of Australians have no preference for the modality (digital, video or in-person) of mental-health support.

“While digital and video mental-health options have been essential to supporting Australians during the pandemic, our data indicate that employees have different preferences and needs in terms of how to access support,” says Jamie MacLennan, Senior Vice-President and Managing Director, Australia and Asia-Pacific APAC.

“Providing a range of modality methods to ensure employees are able to access the services and resources in a way that best suits their individual needs is key to supporting employee wellbeing effectively in the short and long term.

“The flexibility provided by a range of modalities is also consistent with the flexibility that many companies are offering staff in the new post-Covid working arrangements.”

According to the Index, another concern for working Australians relates to concerns about accessibility and confidentiality. These are cited as potential barriers to leveraging employer-funded mental health services.

  • 16% of individuals indicate concerns about confidentiality as their reasoning for not leveraging employer-funded mental-health services. This group has a mental-health score of -23.8, more than 11 points below the national average.
  • 10% of Australians indicate that they are not leveraging employer-funded mental health services because they are unclear on how to access support. This group has a mental-health score of -21.0, nearly nine points below the national average.

“While the majority do not see barriers to getting help from employer-funded mental-health services, the ones noted by those who do, show that there is still work to do in communicating how these services work,” says Paula Allen, Global Leader and Senior Vice President, Research and Total Wellbeing.

“Confidentiality is a cornerstone of employee assistance programs (EAP) and there is no cost to the employee nor members of their family.

“Also, these services are accessible 24 hours a day, each and every day. The course of many lives has been positively changed by EAPs.

“I hope that anyone in need reaches out and is not dissuaded by false assumptions, nor lack of information.”

The full Australian LifeWorks Mental Health Index report can be found here.

This month, the report includes additional insights on the impact of the pandemic on personal lives, the correlation between emergency savings and mental health and more.