Stress, anxiety, depression and poor social support may be hampering employees’ efforts to achieve wellness goals, says a recent report by employee assistance program (EAP) provider ComPsych Corporation.

According to the report, employees suffering from poor emotional health are less likely to adopt healthy lifestyle changes.

“There is strong correlation between high stress/emotional issues and poor lifestyle choices,” says Dr. Richard A. Chaifetz, chairman and CEO of ComPsych. “For example, smoking and overeating may be a means to self-medicate undiagnosed depression.”

Data from health risk assessments across ComPsych’s customer base revealed that 40% of respondents said an emotional or physical health problem had interfered with social activity, while 36% reported frequently feeling tense or anxious.  Forty-three per cent have not received good support from friends and family in the past six months and 21% have felt down, depressed or hopeless in the past month.

The study also revealed that many employees are demonstrating unhealthy habits. Fifteen per cent of employees reported getting zero exercise, while 31% reported only exercising one or two days per week. As well, 34% of employees reported consuming one or less serving of fruits and vegetables each day, 23% admitted to binge drinking within the past six months and only 16% said they get enough sleep.

In order for a workplace wellness program to be effective, ComPsych recommends focusing not just on physical factors, but emotional ones as well. By resolving emotional issues such as stress, anxiety, depression and poor social support, employers can encourage healthy lifestyle changes.

“Corporate wellness programs must focus on emotional as well as physical factors of the employee, and include a counselling component to address underlying issues,” Chaifetz says.

The report recommends integrating wellness programs with an EAP. This allows employers to ask targeted questions about emotional health and the cross-reference those to work-life services offered by the workplace.

Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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