PruHealth launches mental health tools for members

Vitality mental wellbeing introduced

PruHealth has introduced a new service to its Vitality programme to help members access information and support on mental health.

Its Vitality mental wellbeing suite of tools includes online assessments designed to give an overview of individuals’ emotional and mental health.

Free access support is then provided through its ‘Living Life’ online life skills course which uses a cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) approach and has been developed by Dr Chris Williams, Professor of Psychiatry and Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist at the University of Glasgow.

Dr Williams said: “We know that the majority of people with low mood and stress don’t seek help from health practitioners. The Living Life online wellbeing resources allow people to dip into and address topics they want to work on, such as how to boost motivation and fix problems, or tackle irritability, losing your temper and destructive negative thinking.

“By using the CBT approach we have developed some practical things to do that can make a real difference.”

The move comes after Universal Provident added a series of counselling and other support services to its group private medical insurance plan, Choices Corporate, for a small additional premium, earlier this month.

PruHealth has also published research today showing that UK workers taking time off work due to stress are more than twice as likely to pretend they have a physical condition than tell the truth. One in five would not want their colleagues to know they are not coping.

The survey says that at least one in four British workers is displaying symptoms of the most common mental health problems such as depression, stress and anxiety. These include feeling worried or anxious (47%), being irritable or angry (46%), disturbed sleep (33%), lack of energy and feeling tired or lethargic (32%), feeling hopeless or helpless (27%), not feeling good about themselves (27%), and lack of motivation and sense of purpose (27%).

Stress levels have increased for 45% of respondents in the last 12 months, while 37% say incidents of physical and verbal abuse as a result of stress in the workplace have increased since the start of the recession.

Dr Dawn Richards, head of clinical services at PruHealth: “Stress, depression or anxiety are so prevalent in the workplace they now account for the most days lost due to work-related ill health. This is not only bad for people’s health and wellbeing, it is bad for business as it costs employers nearly £26bn each year in sickness absence, reduced productivity and employee turnover. 

“The first step to dealing with stress and mental illness is recognising it exists and how common it is. Mental health remains a taboo subject and this is the biggest barrier in addressing it.  Early intervention and putting the right coping mechanisms in place are very important to nip symptoms in the bud, which is why awareness amongst individuals and employers alike is critical.”

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