Statistically 1 in 4 of us will fight a mental health problem at some point in our lives but the reality is that all of us will be affected. We all know that things are strange and tough right now and that the Pandemic has drastically changed many aspects of our lives and has brought us a great sense of worry, insecurity, and fear.
No one has been left unaffected by COVID-19 with many people now dealing with these difficult feelings for the very first time. This is why it’s more important than ever to be attune to our mental health needs and make our mental wellbeing a priority.
Maintaining good mental health of all employees should be a priority for your business right now and implementing a wellbeing strategy is vital. Across the business It’s imperative to get buy-in from senior leadership and make sure conversations about mental health and wellbeing happen at Board level too. When staff feel happy and well cared for, they are more engaged, motivated and loyal.
Currently, 67% of employees feel scared, embarrassed, or unable to talk about mental health concerns with their employer. Working remotely presents its own challenges, making it increasingly more difficult for employees to reach out and for employers to recognise signs their staff may be struggling which is why it is important that as an employer you are creating an open and caring culture.
So how can you put mental health on the agenda and break the taboo?
Understandably, senior leaders are under more pressure than ever to cut costs and optimise ROI and perhaps do not immediately understand the business impact of poor mental health. Be prepared to make the business case and have figures to back up your proposal, such as, relevant figures on staff turnover, moral and feedback from exit interviews.
“As we continue to live through a global pandemic, we need movement on
mental health, perhaps more than we have ever needed it before”, said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of World Mental Health Organisation. "We need to move for our own mental health, the mental health of our families, friends and colleagues, and more importantly, so that there is a massive increase in investment for mental health services at national and international levels."
Think about when would be the most beneficial time to start the conversation to get buy-in? Use important dates to help start the conversation, for example World Mental Health Day in October or Mental Health week. However, don’t feel you have to wait for these dates, as board / management meetings, staff surveys and staff absence reports alt present the right opportunity to broach the topic.
Having a well-defined mental wellbeing strategy is imperative to future proofing your business. It is important to take action on mental health
NOW, as it is predicted by 2030 that depression will be the most common illness and the global burden of this condition will be greater than illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Employers need to take action to prevent (safeguarding the mental health of your workforce), intervene (stepping in before problems become more serious) and protect (supporting staff if they need time off, or need help retuning to the workplace) their workforce.
Brands like the Royal Mail and Deloitte have already partnered with organisations to develop training and create peer-to-peer support networks for their staff in a bid to improve and support the mental wellbeing of their work force.
Efforts to improve mental health span further than the business world, I hope this will motivate you to take action because we can no longer simply ignore the fact that unreported, unmanaged stress increases the prevalence of mental health issues in the UK.