Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

’Tis The Season To Be… Stressed?

SME owner managers urged to check their insurance policies for free mental health support services

As the song goes, ‘Tis the season to be jolly’ but this is often not the case, with one in 20 people considering Christmas to be more stressful than a burglary*. Small business owners often feel the weight of Christmas more profoundly than others, which can turn stress into more serious conditions such as anxiety and depression. Therefore this group are being urged to investigate their protection policies (life insurance, critical illness insurance, income protection and private medical insurance) as many will be able to access mental health support free of charge – even without making a claim.

In addition, some small businesses may also be able to access mental health support via the trade associations, groups or bodies of which they are members – as many offer insurances and additional services to add value to membership and look after the welfare of their members. Often these member benefits are underutilised.

Christine Husbands, managing director, RedArc says: “Small business owner managers particularly feel the pressure at this time of year with fewer working days; the extra workload; various cold and flu bugs affecting staff; and employees trying to use up leftover annual leave. By the time the twenty-fifth arrives, many are too exhausted or unwell to actually enjoy it.”

RedArc, a company that offers mental health support to groups such as membership organisations, insurance policyholders and employees is urging small businesses to read the small print of their insurance documents and membership benefits as they may be able to access free care, and prevent the early signs of a mental health problem declining in to something more serious.

Husbands continued: “Getting help early is key to managing mental health conditions: while counselling and other therapies are available on the NHS, waiting lists can be very long and the condition will more than likely deteriorate during the wait.”

RedArc also suggests that while the additional stressors leading up to Christmas can tip people over the edge, once mental health problems take hold, they often have long-lasting effects. Getting professional support that is available over the long term is vital is ensuring an individual has properly recovered and to avoid any relapses.

Husbands concluded: “Many owner managers will find that they can access this support via existing insurance policies but if they can’t and would like to put something similar in place they should look carefully at the differing options. For example, services can range from a light-touch helpline for a one-off telephone call through to long-term support from a dedicated nurse; some purely offer counselling and others make a clinical assessment to determine the most appropriate therapy which could be counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), psychotherapy or others. Some will offer support for the owner manager only as the key person within the business, others will extend the support to all employees.”

“The pressure to cope under all circumstances is a burden that many business owners feel strongly and particularly at Christmas. However the fallout from stress and other mental health conditions doesn’t need to be an unwanted Christmas visitor – it can be managed, and managed well to ensure that both the individual and the organisation can get back to business as usual.”