Mental Health in the Workplace.

The importance of focussing on employee well-being and being aware of mental health issues in the workplace has, quite correctly, become a much greater priority in recent years.

Organisations have started to realise the positive impacts, not only to individuals, but to the organisation as well, of addressing mental health more proactively and investing in mental health in the workplace. Many organisations are not only prioritising their employees’ mental health but also using their public platform to encourage others to follow.

It is estimated that one in four individuals will suffer from a metal health issue at some point in their life and that one in six employees could be depressed, anxious, or suffering from stress-related issues at any one time. The Covid-19 pandemic will only make this situation worse. It has been a real wakeup call for the whole world. Overnight, we all had to adapt to a new ‘normal’ in both our personal and working lives.

Research in the UK has shown that the economic cost of mental ill health is estimated at between £74 to £99 billion a year and now more and more organisations are starting to recognise the detrimental effects of ignoring overall wellbeing of their human resources.

A report published by United for Global Mental Health and the Speak Your Mind Campaign (2019/20) shows that the financial return of investing in mental health brings a huge return — for every USD 1 invested, USD 4 are returned. As there is more awareness around the topic and real-life examples to learn by, a lot of large organisations now recognise the connection between mental wellbeing, productivity and organisational performance. The key to a successful and productive business is to invest and show compassion and empathy when it comes to the workforce. Reports show that organisations that invest in employee mental health have four times the staff retention of organisations that do not effectively manage employee wellbeing.

The workplace environment can both be a positive and a negative trigger when it comes to mental health.

Although, work stress can cause anxiety, it can also be an escape from peoples’ personal problems and act as a different, more positive environment for people who have triggers at home.

As the Chief Executive of the British Asian Trust, I recognise the importance of employee wellbeing and approach this as a top organisational priority, even more so during these challenging and difficult times.  Throughout this period, we have made sure that all employees, both working and furloughed, have the option of a safe space and a member of staff to come to if they are facing any difficulties. We proactively keep updated on all our employees’ circumstances, both physical and mental health and check in on how they are feeling. We hold multiple ‘wellbeing’ sessions and have better equipped our line managers to have the soft skills and compassionate listening needed to encourage all our colleagues to open up and share if they are feeling anxious or distressed. One of the positive effects of this lockdown and focusing on well-being has been the increased sense of a ‘team’ coming together from the different countries we work in. I feel even more connected to each and every one of my colleagues, wherever they are in the world, and I very much hope they feel the same.

I encourage everyone to join the movement this World Mental Health Day – It is Time to Act - Let’s move for mental health - Let’s invest to make mental health services and support accessible to all.