Now I don’t really want to come across like some kind of Ebenezer Scrooge, but I think it’s fair to say that not everyone is happy at Christmas time.

A few years ago the mental health charity Mind published the findings of a survey which revealed that as many as 40% of people suffer from increased levels of stress or anxiety during the festive season and a quarter (25%) experience increased levels of depression.

Many who were questioned at the time highlighted the high cost of Christmas as a reason for feeling down. I guess with the way things have turned with our economy, the situation could be even worse now.

According to Mind, one in six people in the UK suffer from a mental-health condition at any one time. Inevitably this has a knock-on effect on employers, with 70 million working days lost every year for reasons of mental ill health. In addition, staff turnover as a result of employees leaving their jobs because of mental-health conditions costs £2.4 billion.

So I was pleased to learn of a new Government-funded support service this week that’s designed to help people with mental-health conditions stay in employment.

It turns out that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has appointed Remploy to deliver ‘Access to Work’ mental-health services, spanning England, Wales and Scotland.

The in-work support service is said to be completely impartial and confidential, comes at no cost to either employer or employee, can be provided with or without the support of the employer and is delivered by “experts” who understand mental-health issues.

Now it’s worth bearing in mind that this service is new. I don’t have any experience of how it works or how useful it might be. But it sounds flexible and importantly, it is free to use.

For me, the least employers could do this Christmas is find out a bit more about the service. After all, it could be a really important gift to those staff who a suffering more than most at this time of year.

More information about Access to Work mental-health services can be found at www.remploy.co.uk/employment-services/welfare-to-work/access-to-work.ashx

About Teresa Budworth