A new survey highlights the growing need for counselling in the workplace.

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More than half (53%) of HR professionals have provided counselling to employees in the past two years, according to a new survey by MetLife. Two thirds (67%) of those surveyed said mental health issues are a major issue in their workplace and said those who provided mental health and stress counselling was more than double the number of those who had to resolve a workplace dispute.

Additionally, 76% said they were surprised by the personal information staff tell them, whilst 22% said they had provided relationship counselling as well.

Rachel Suff, employment relations adviser at the CIPD said: “It shouldn't be HR's job to provide mental health and stress counselling – it really is a specialist area – but it has an important role to play in developing an appropriate supportive framework. A really important part of that is training for line managers to understand what mental health means. If they are not trained it can be really stressful for them to have those conversations and spot issues.'

The most commonly cited causes of stress appeared to be long work hours, excessive workload, tight deadlines and poor relationships in the work place. This is according to Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at mental health charity Mind.

She added: “It’s not surprising that HR professionals are seeing more colleagues coming through their doors seeking help for mental health problems such as stress, anxiety and depression. A recent survey by Mind found that more than half of workers rated their jobs as fairly or very stressful.

“It is important that HR professionals and line managers work hard to create a culture conducive to promoting wellbeing, as well as tackling the work-related causes of mental health problems and supporting staff experiencing mental health problems. Staff working for employers that take this issue seriously are less likely to become unwell.'