In this weeks update, we look at World Mental Health day and mental health in the wider workplace.
World Mental Health Day
“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candour, and more unashamed conversation.” Glenn Close
World Mental Health Day has been celebrated on 10 October each year since it was started by the World Health Organisation in 1992.
The primary aim of this event is to try and raise awareness of mental health issues and encourage discussion.
This year, many people have been feeling the particular impact of the COVID-19 situation and this year’s theme, “Mental Health for all”, recognises both that these impacts have been felt by everyone and the aim of better investment in mental health programmes at both national and international levels.
Mental health is undoubtedly key to well-being and in any given year, one in four of us will experience a mental health problem of some kind. During the lockdown, surveys showed 49% of the population had feelings of anxiety or worry. With reduced social interaction, more than one in five felt lonely. Estimates suggest that anxiety and depression cause one fifth of days lost from work in Britain, with one in seven people experiencing mental health issues at work, showing the impact the workplace can have.
It is notable how the younger generation of the working age population have suffered significantly as a result of COVID-19, exemplified by the recent exams row and the exponential increase in unemployment. Of the working age population, those aged 17 were the most likely to be furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). According to government statistics from earlier this year, around 62% of employees in the 16-24 age group were furloughed as at 31 July 2020, compared to an overall average of 32% in other age groups. This is largely owed to the fact that they are twice as likely to work in sectors severely impacted by lockdown measures such as retail, hospitality and leisure. While the situation may have improved since then, the impact undoubtedly remains.
Employers concerned about this have looked at:
- Introducing mental health champions with training to deal with issues;
- Announcing internal events to note the day, whether training or (as Thomson Reuters did last week), announcing a company-wide response (such as a holiday) to recognise World Mental Health Day;
- Signposting their staff to resources produced by mental health charities to be used in the workplace, such as Time to Changeand Mind;
- ACAS has also produced guidance on promoting positive mental health at work, which can be found here (https://archive.acas.org.uk/media/3384/Promoting-positive-mental-health-in-the-workplace/pdf/Promoting_positive_mental_health_in_the_workplace.pdf).
This year’s World Mental Health Day, on 10 October, is that much more significant in a year when our daily lives have changed considerably as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is why the stated goal of this year’s World Mental Health Day campaign is increased investment in mental health.
Given the challenges of self-isolation and changes to our work and personal environments (with the economic consequences of the pandemic being felt), the need for mental health support will be expected to increase over the next year. Employers should look at the numerous resources to look to raise awareness of mental health issues and creating a culture where employees can talk openly about them.
We have a HR and employment specialist Lucy Churchill, who can assist with any queries on the above on either 01603 677077 or email@example.com.
Please drop us an e mail or call if you need any further details and stay safe and well.
Lucy and Roger