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Integrated care pathways: MSK and mental health.


In the UK, 1 in 8 people of working age report having a musculoskeletal (MSK) condition, and approximately 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health issue in any given year. We want to help you to understand how, as an employer, you can support employees with these two related conditions, by implementing a wellbeing strategy that recognises the interlinked nature of physical and mental health.

MSK conditions are painful and can often be debilitating, putting sufferers at an increased risk of developing depression, which is four times more common in people who experience persistent pain. With 30.8m working days lost due to MSK problems, and poor mental health costing employers up to £42b per year, these are issues that your organisation can’t afford to ignore.

So what’s the solution?

According to Dr Steve Boorman: ‘Organisations need to ensure their MSK and mental health services complement each other and can be delivered in a co-ordinated way.’ By implementing a wellbeing strategy that deals with both physical and mental health issues together, you can deliver a more rounded approach to help your employees get back to full health. Health Shield’s extensive range of benefits and services deliver clear integrated care pathways, providing you and your employees with preventative wellbeing tools to enable a healthy, productive workforce.

Our award-winning Health Cash Plans are a low-cost solution for employers looking to minimise the impact of poor health and wellbeing within their organisation. Our plans provide a clear, sign-posted pathway for employees seeking support with their physical and mental health. For example, if an employee on our Tailored Health Cash Plan was struggling with depression alongside their MSK condition, they could access our On-Demand Physio service, claim money back* on physio treatments, download our NHS-approved** mental health app Thrive, or call our 24/7 Counselling and Support Helpline. If further support was needed, the individual could also access our face-to-face counselling and GP Anytime services.

Research shows that some MSK conditions can be caused, or made worse over time by working conditions or practices. Creating a clear back-to-work process for employees to follow after an absence can help establish root causes and help you to identify and minimise risk areas to prevent future reoccurrence. An occupational health programme can also be effective in assessing whether working conditions or practices are causing or worsening MSK conditions. At Health Shield, we offer a range of health checks and services to help you comply with Health & Safety legislation and provide healthy working environments for your employees.

With seven million people in the UK workforce expected to have MSK conditions by 2030, why not improve your wellbeing strategy now to lessen the future impact of MSK issues and associated mental health conditions? Providing tailored employee support will not only positively impact your bottom line, research suggests you’ll also find that you have a more engaged and loyal workforce.

* Up to agreed limits.

** The app meets NHS quality standards for clinical effectiveness, safety, usability and accessibility and has a supportive evidence base.


National Institute for Health and Care Excellence Business in the Community, The Prince’s Responsible Business Network, 2017

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