With the new president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists painting a bleak picture in regard to the future of the nation’s mental health, Tracey Paxton, the Managing Director of BHSF RISE, has urged UK employers to implement a “comprehensive 360-degree approach” to support their staff through the Covid-19 crisis.

Dr Adrian James believes the on-going pandemic has exacerbated problems for people with pre-existing mental health issues and he has predicted “very significant mental illness consequences” in the months and years ahead.

As the country’s workforce continues to overcome the many obstacles created by coronavirus, Paxton has acknowledged James’s concerns and called on employers to go above and beyond in their efforts to help their staff.

“It is imperative that employing organisations adopt both a proactive and reactive stance when supporting their employees,” said Paxton, who is also the managing director of The Employee Resilience Company [TERC].

“It is evident the pandemic will have a major impact on mental health as well as physical and financial health, and the evidence we have collected demonstrates that urgent action is required.

“Providing a comprehensive 360-degree approach to addressing mental, physical, social and financial wellbeing will provide employers with a substantive return on investment which could deliver not only increased productivity but also provide increased employee engagement and improved recruitment and retention rates.”

Paxton added: “We need to be prepared for a rise in the number of people experiencing poor mental health, both short-term and potentially for some time to come.”

Paxton says TERC have dealt with the full gamut of Covid-19 concerns from its clients since lockdown began in March.

She explained: “During the initial impact phase we received shorter calls, for example from clients suffering from anxiety caused by concerns about the outbreak and possible illness. Clients who called during the mid-crisis phase spoke about depression caused by loneliness and/or isolation or maybe because of a relationship breakdown.

“People have also been in touch with worries they have for the long-term such as the anxiety around a return to normality (or ‘the new norm’) and a second wave of infection.

“We have also dealt with a plethora of clients who have been furloughed. They are telling us that their mental health has been affected due to changes in their financial status and the uncertainty around their economic future, and that is completely understandable.”

And with Covid-19 still at the forefront of our daily lives, Paxton believes it is imperative that employers leave no stone unturned as we approach the backend of 2020.

“What happens if we have an increase in Covid-19 cases as we move into the autumn and winter?” she said.

“The NHS is already implementing preparedness measures in terms of physical health, but what we all need to think about is the type of employee psychological support necessary to maintain an already fragile economic infrastructure.

“As a result of all these factors around Covid-19, it is completely normal for people to have feelings of uncertainty, worry and stress, and employers must be ready to help however they can.”