Latest figures released by Engage, an employee digital health and wellbeing app, reveal growing demand among UK employees for GP services and carer support and advice during each of the UK’s three lockdowns.
Since October 2020, the Engage app has had an average 200,000 user sessions, according to analysis by its developers and providers HIVE360, an employee benefits and outsourced payroll specialist.
Amongst the most startling statistics are a 70 percent jump in demand for the app’s personal doctor service during the third lockdown when compared to user numbers in lockdown two, as well as a 39 percent rise in users accessing carer advice and support.
HIVE360, has seen usage and take-up of Engage soar since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the first week of lockdown in March 2020, Engage had an unprecedented 273 percent increase in demand for its mental health support services.
David McCormack, HIVE360 chief executive, says: “With huge swathes of the UK’s working population combining full- or part-time work with caring for an unwell or disabled loved one, as well as homeschooling children throughout the lockdowns, the demands and pressures on this so-called ‘sandwich’ generation that is looking after both young children and elderly relatives is at an unprecedented level.
“We have also recorded peaks in users that coincide with government announcements on changes to the COVID-19 restrictions – for instance, this was up by 265 percent between October and November 2020, and 850 users visited the mental health support features in December 2020 when the new COVID-19 variant came to light and Christmas ‘bubbles’ were cancelled. Analysis of the user data for the third lockdown suggest that UK workers are beginning to feel the strain and proactively seeking out support to manage their mental and physical health and well-being.”
Support mental well-being
Global professional services firm Aon has advised UK employers to proactively support mental wellbeing in the workplace amid growing crisis, in its new report titled The Mental Health Crisis: Supporting Employees Through Turbulent Times.
At least half a million more people are experiencing poor mental health in the UK in the wake of the COVID-19, research has shown, and just under 45 percent of employers are not delivering mental health awareness training.
In addition to this, only eight percent of employers invest more than £126 per employee, per year, in a health and well-being programme.
Charles Alberts, head of wellbeing, UK Health Solutions at Aon, said: “It has been well-documented that there is not enough support for those with poor mental health. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, research by the World Health Organisation (WHO) found that countries were spending less than two percent of their national health budgets on mental health.
“However, now the pandemic has impacted many more. We are at a point where there is increased demand and decreased support services available. On top of this, we are now learning that COVID-19 survivors may also suffer from mental health issues.”
The UK government has recently recognised this impact, with the announcement of a new £500m mental health recovery plan.