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14,000 engage with Irish helpline for employee health and wellbeing

30 Oct 2019

An average of 40 calls were made each day to Spectrum.Life’s helpline, with mental health support being the highest service in demand.

A recent clinical study has found that more than 14,000 calls were made to a health and wellbeing helpline by employees in Ireland over the course of a year.

According to Dr Sarah O’Neill of Spectrum.Life, an average of 40 calls were made each day to the organisation’s Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), and almost 8,000 of those were seeking help for mental health issues.

Stress, anxiety and mood accounted for more than half of all calls placed, with the highest number coming from those aged between 31 and 35.

According to O’Neill, this finding suggests that people in their early 30s are more prone to pressure or stress at work, but that they are also more willing to seek professional support early.

The report also emphasised that men were less likely to take advantage of workplace support services. Women accounted for 59pc of the calls made, while just 41pc were made by men.

On-the-job support

O’Neill highlighted that half of all calls to the helpline were made during traditional working hours, with 11am to 12pm being the busiest time.

“The fact that people are contacting us during the working day may indicate that there is a real urgency to their need,” she said. “Having access to support services at work is important as they may be feeling stressed or distressed, and the issue may be exacerbated by having to wait to seek support.

“When it comes to dealing with mental health issues, early intervention is really important. Providing employees with access to clinical professionals at any time of day is critical when it comes to promoting mental wellbeing.”

O’Neill also found that employees who had interacted with their managers in relation to their mental health experienced significant improvements. Of those reporting severe distress during an expert consultation, nine in 10 said they saw a decrease in symptoms after engaging with the helpline.

She said: “There was a marked decline in the levels of psychological distress experienced by employees following EAP intervention. Having support from qualified psychotherapists is allowing distressed employees to address any difficulties in a healthy and productive way.”


Referring to a new workplace phenomenon, O’Neill added: “More and more we are hearing about ‘presenteeism’, which is where employees attend work but are not fully productive as a result of physical, mental or personal factors. It is estimated that presenteeism costs businesses up to three times as much as absenteeism, so it is in everyone’s best interest to reduce its prevalence.”

The Spectrum.Life EAP provides 24-hour support to corporate members, including staff and family members. Its services include an online live chat, call helpline and video counselling.

“By encouraging employees to engage with preventative support services and by providing employees with the opportunity to learn new self-care skills, employers can help to create a stigma-free work culture and open up the doors of communication between staff and managers,” O’Neill concluded.

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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