World Mental Health Day 2020 – why it’s time to make mental health support available for us all

World Mental Health Day 2020 has fallen in the midst of global economic uncertainty. However, it is encouraging to see organisations have taken strides to invest in mental health, with 90% of UK CEOs conducting wellbeing initiatives, according to a PwC report.

Never before has psychological safety at work been such an important topic. Employees are living through a period of high anxiety, a known disruptor of performance and mental wellbeing.

What is World Mental Health Day?

Set up in 1992 by the World Federation for Mental Health, ‘World Mental Health Day’ raises awareness of mental health and wellbeing problems and inspires action to promote the message of good mental health for all.

As a culture we have made great efforts to open up about mental health recently, and while there is a long way to go, workplace initiatives like World Mental Health Day can undoubtedly save lives.

Why ‘Mental Health for All’ is this year’s theme

This year’s focus of ‘mental health for all’ is a stark reminder of the need for inclusivity when discussing mental health. It reminds us that everyone deserves access to a safe environment and comprehensive  support.

Businesses must protect the mental health of all employees

Protecting mental health, both in and outside of the workplace, will be central to the nation’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The effects of Covid-19 has identified clear disparities between employees navigating these difficult times.

For some, working remotely has been beneficial in many regards. For the commuters who no longer wake up at silly o’clock and for parents who can now spend more time with loved ones. However, others have seen a significant decline in mental wellbeing as their routines are eroded. This is especially true for those feeling isolated and struggling to separate their personal and professional life.

Individuals within a team are experiencing more varied attitudes to work than ever before. Therefore, it is vital that managers understand there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution as these disparities continue to underline differing workplace experiences.

The cost of poor mental health

A Deloitte report published in January this year puts the cost of poor mental health to businesses at a staggering £45billion each year. The 60-page report, Mental Health and Employers, found a worrying trend in the rise of leavism (a term that describes the growing tendency of individuals to be unable to ‘switch off’ from work), a contributory factor to burnout and stress. The sudden change to home-working will only have compounded this issue.

Poor mental health costs businesses £45billion each year

Yet, the report highlights the positive case for investment in employee mental health by employers, reporting an average £5 return for every £1 spent.

The case for investing in mental health support

Organisations that recognise the importance of mental health consistently see higher levels of engagement, productivity, retention and motivation among employees. Research at Mind shows that when employees feel their work is meaningful and they are valued and supported, they tend to have higher wellbeing levels, be more committed to the organisation’s goals and, importantly, they perform better too.

As many as 91% of managers say that what they do affects the wellbeing of their staff, yet less than a quarter of managers have received any training on how to deal with mental health problems at work. But there are a number of ways organisations can address mental health concerns.

Mental health first aiders

Firstly, employers can invest in mental health first-aiders who are trained to recognise the early signs and symptoms of mental ill health. They are able to start a supportive conversation with colleagues who may be experiencing mental health problems or emotional distress. Find more useful MHFA resources here.

Creating a culture of listening

Employers should also look at making deeper workplace cultural changes. One of the ways employers can make people feel heard is to simply ask them how they are feeling.

Understanding how individuals are feeling about working remotely or returning to the workplace will enable employers to respond fast to any issues and ensure employee mental health is put first.

One of the biggest challenges for employers is getting employees to open up and talk about mental health at work. That’s where WeThrive can help. Why not start by asking your employees how they feel using a WeThrive employee engagement survey?

About WeThrive

Employee Engagement, Evolved

WeThrive is the agile employee engagement platform that uncovers how your people truly feel, enabling managers to create highly effective teams, increase employee retention and employee wellbeing and deliver better business results.

Posted by Megan Thompson on October 9, 2020

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