EAEF Innovation and Best practice Award 2017

In 2017 the EAEF was pleased to receive three nominations for it’s industry innovation and best practise award:

  • Morneau Shepell: International Student Support Program
  • Clinica Capa: Be Balanced
  • WPO: Virtual Group Counselling

We are proud to share with you these innovations and best practice that our members have developed.

The winning submission came from Morneau Shepell  for their International Student Support Program.

An estimated eight million students will be studying abroad by 2025. International students tend to be at greater risk of developing mental health problems due to the stresses of living in a foreign environment, without a social support network.

Morneau Shepell’s ISSP (International Student Support Program) offers immediate support for students using 24/7 digital chat (via app/online) and telephone, as well as ongoing support through telephone and video counselling. The program integrates with on-campus resources to create a holistic and seamless support network.  Students are matched to counsellors based on language and cultural background, enhancing the positive outcome for program users.

Seventy two percent of users have reported improvement in their mental health. From September 2015 to December 2016, 62% of students reported improvement in class attendance and 71% reported improved productivity.

Morneau Shepell 

Clinica Capa: Be Balanced” programme (“Be Balanced-Por uma Vida Equilibrada).

This program has been designed to meet over 1000 employees and to support the H.R. employee care vision to achieve maximum employee wellbeing, productivity and overall positive motivation, engagement and employee resilience. The program expands on the existing EAP and facilitates further integration of the EAP with other employee care services such as occupational health.

Be Balanced was, in a first stage, primarily directed to employees with excessive weight and other associated life-style problems and concerns. The program launched in April of 2017 with a motivational endorsement from the Director of H.R. to a group of employees, who chose to participate and who met the medical criteria.  Employees were welcomed and inducted into the program by a collaboration of internal and external partners working together to support weight loss and a healthier lifestyle change for participants.  

The program is ongoing and represents a collaboration between diverse stakeholders providing individual support such as a nutritional consultant, a life coach and a personal trainer as well as on a meta level assessment of the dietary offerings in the company canteen, monitoring by the internal health department and regular meetings of providers to evaluate and adapt as needed.

Employees who successfully complete the program will be presented with a gift.


Clinica Capa

Work Place Options: Virtual Group Counselling

Many mental health challenges could potentially benefit from group therapy. WPO found, however, that its members faced emotional and practical obstacles to engaging in group therapy.

Drawing on their experience of supporting members individually through telephonic and video communication, WPO  launched Virtual Group Counselling as a component of its EAP service in January 2017.  The Virtual Group Counselling allows WPO to overcome user barriers to access, utilize and offer it’s clinical expertise around the globe and collect data to support the efficacy of group counselling.


  • Receive clinical assessment for suitability
  • Participate in small issue based groups via telephone or video for 8 consecutive weeks. (The groups are closed and new groups are formed every 2 weeks or as needed).
  • Supported by two qualified clinicians.
  • Contacted individually for quality and effectiveness monitoring.

Members across the board have consistently provided positive feedback and report feeling supported and contained. They report learning new skills and adopting new tools to manage anxiety.  Additionally, the group setting helps normalize the individual’s feelings.

Facilitators report that members have proactively engaged in the sessions and have supported and validated one another.


Young women are now a ‘high-risk group’ for mental illness

Psychological distress in women aged 16-24 is at an all-time high, with record numbers admitting to harming themselves to relieve their distress, according to an alarming study.

Experts say young women are now a “high-risk group” and point to links between mental illness and violence or sexual abuse, and possible pressures from the rise of social media. This has prompted calls from researchers for more funding to protect the nation’s mental health.

The Adult Psychiatric Morbidity survey of mental health and wellbeing, carried out every seven years across England, reveals soaring rates of mental illness among young women, who are suffering from a range of common mental health problems, including depression and anxiety. Despite going to their GP for help, only 20% received treatment in the last 12 months, according to the study.

The statistics from NHS Digital show that more than one in four women aged 16-24 reported symptoms of common mental health conditions the previous week – a rise from 21% when the study was last carried out in 2007. Young women were three times as likely as men to report such symptoms, with rates of 9% among males of the same age, the figures show.

Worryingly, in this age group, reports of self-harm in women had trebled to almost 20% between 2000 and 2014. This figure rose to one in four in self-completed questionnaires. Often they were suffering from anxiety or depression. Yet only around a third of this age group received treatment, compared with more than half of over-50s who self-harmed.

Elsewhere, the study found 13% of young women had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – three times the rate recorded when the government-funded study was last conducted in 2007. Experts believe violence and abuse, including rape, was part of the explanation for the sharp rise in PTSD, but they also said a new screening tool may be detecting more cases.

Lead researcher Sally McManus says: “When I first saw the figures I thought it was a statistical blip. The gender gap in mental illness has become most pronounced in young people. These results were staggering, but similar figures have appeared elsewhere. The figures on self-harm are particularly worrying. The risk is that without alternative, positive coping strategies, illnesses will become long-term and entrenched.”

McManus said exposure to violence and abuse was the biggest predictor of mental illness. However, there was evidence that poverty was also a factor and there were possible links to social media, with a “selfie generation” feeling under pressure over their body image.

“I wish we had questions on social media. When I think about this generation now, the biggest change has been in technology. It is not all bad. It can be a good thing – you get access to like-minded people and find different treatment options. But not enough.”

It is a view shared by clinical psychologist Dr Miranda Wolpert, who is committed to transforming and improving child and adolescent mental health services as head of the Evidence Based Practice and Research Unit at University College London. Wolpert, who also leads the mental health stream of the Child Policy Research Unit, said work was still ongoing as to what would most help young people with mental health difficulties.

There are currently only four models of treatment: therapy; medication; behaviour modification or psycho-education (where people were given information on how to manage their own condition). However, she said interventions needed to be more targeted to the needs of an individual. At the same time, there needed to be a model that could improve resilience, involving the wider community. Many schools recognised that distressed pupils needed professional help and pilot projects involving schools and mental health providers were supporting youngsters in a variety of ways.

“This is not just about putting more professionals on the ground, but also increasing the emphasis on things to help, such as mindfulness. We also need to look at ways to tackle inequalities, as mental health difficulties are associated with inequalities and deprivation,” Wolpert says.

One woman hoping to make a difference is Dr Martina Di Simplicio, a Medical Research Council career development fellow, who works in the Emotional Disorders and Mental Imagery group in Cambridge and specialises in developing innovative early interventions for young people.

Di Simplicio says there is a dramatic need for better research into why young people develop mental health issues in order to base new therapies on evidence. “It is important to develop therapies with young people who find it difficult to access mental health treatments,” she adds.

Working in the “Imaginator” project, Di Simplicio, a psychiatrist and cognitive therapist, has co-developed a simple app that uses a series of images aimed at distracting people facing triggers for self-harm.

“Young people who self-harm can wait a long time for treatment. By immersing themselves in a positive image, they can feel some enjoyment. This can be enough to lift their mood. Eventually they can go and do the activity,” she says.

The project, funded by the Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care East of England, is still in the early stages of development, according to Di Simplicio, who is also using imagery to help young people with bipolar disorder.

 source: theguardian.com

Discover how technology will shape workplace wellness at Employee Benefits Connect 2017

Greg Levine, director of corporate and intermediated business at VitalityHealth, will present a session titled ‘The future of tailored employee wellness schemes’ as part of the driving performance conference stream on Wednesday 1 March 2017.

In his session, Levine will examine the role of technological innovation in driving and reinforcing behavioural change as part of a sustainable health and wellbeing programme in both small and large organisations.

Levine said: “Behavioural change is a complex process and there’s no quick fix for it. What [employers] need in order to change behaviours and change what happens in organisations is [a] long-term, sustainable programme; that’s the key.”

Levine will also discuss how to place employee wellbeing at the top of an organisation’s agenda, and how employers can take concrete steps towards improving employee wellness for individuals, highlighting the business reasons for making these kinds of changes, such as reducing costs and improving staff retention.

Levine added: “[The presentation] will look at the whole benefits space in a much more vibrant and exciting way. [It] will have a different slant and have a different view of what employee benefits can look like today and going forwards.”

Employee Benefits Connect 2017 will take place on Wednesday 1 March 2017 at Park Plaza, London.

source: https://www.employeebenefits.co.uk