Darren Hockley, Managing Director at DeltaNet International

According to the latest research by Edays, 41% of the workforce feel that their workplace has negatively impacted their wellbeing during the pandemic, with 10% of them not getting support for their mental and physical wellbeing at all. The past 18 months haven’t been easy, but this is a wake-up call for organisations to step up and take responsibility for their workforce.

This year, World Mental Health Day’s theme is ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’. During the pandemic, 2020 revealed significant inequalities that people from different races, ethnicities, sexual orientations and gender identities face, which included those that live will mental health conditions. Research has highlighted that 75% to 95% of people with mental disorders in low- and middle-income countries are unable to access mental health services at all — and access in high-income countries is not much better either.

Employees spend a considerable amount of their time working or in the workplace, and the pandemic has created further difficulties for those with mental health. For example, many report feeling isolated, removed from social interactions, both in and out of the workplace. World Mental Health Day serves as a reminder for organisations to provide mental health and wellbeing support to their employees.

So how can organisations provide better mental health support?

Duty of care

Organisations should recognise that their duty of care not only extends to physical health and safety in the workplace, but also mental health since it plays a crucial part in employees' lives. Employees that feel stressed, burnt-out, or are not being offered flexible/hybrid working, have realised that there are plenty of organisations that do offer this support. This has resulted in various organisations facing employees leaving because they’re not doing enough for employee wellbeing and engagement. Simply put, organisations need to understand how important mental health and wellbeing support is to their employees. Good mental and physical wellbeing matters.

Create a wellbeing culture

Business leaders and line managers must check in on employees and create a workplace culture that promotes mental and physical wellbeing. They should provide training to employees, as well as line managers, so they gain a better understanding of the different types of mental health, such as anxiety, depression and stress, to be able to better support employees to get the help they need. During the pandemic, many employees who lived by themselves felt lonely and suffered from depression. Offering support with mental and physical wellbeing can help employees feel much happier and address any concerns they have.

Organisations might consider encouraging employees to participate in team social activities, such as playing a sport or going for a meal, or perhaps a wellbeing-focused session, doing yoga or learning to practice mindfulness. If employees continue to work remotely, then virtual sessions and check-ins from line managers can hold a significant impact on employees' lives.

Listen and address concerns

Employees that feel supported and heard regarding any issues they may have, e.g. feeling stressed, depressed, or anxious, are more likely to stay if the organisation addresses these issues head-on. Line managers - as the first line of contact - must regularly keep in touch and have one-to-one sessions with staff to understand them and discuss worries they may not feel comfortable sharing in front of the team. Line managers can help employees to get the right support they need – whether that’s learning how to manage stress, coping with substance abuse issues, grieving a death of a loved one, or seeking help from a medical professional. Supporting employee wellbeing will lead to happier employees, reducing the risk of employees quitting their jobs.

As research has shown, many employees have experienced mental health and wellbeing issues throughout the pandemic, and organisations have a duty of care to their employees to support them through their time of need. Being there as a helping hand, to listen, and to provide advice or training shows employees that they don’t have to battle through any issues or worries alone, and as an employer, that you do care about their mental and physical wellbeing. Get employees talking and help them to become their happy selves.

By Darren Hockley, Managing Director at DeltaNet International

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