There has never been a more important time to talk about Mental Health

Thirty five percent of those in employment would currently describe their mental health as poor or very poor according to a new report published by Mind.

The report, The Mental Health Emergency, sets out the findings of research into the experiences of over 16,000 people across the UK during the Coronavirus pandemic. 

The report also found that those who were furloughed, changed jobs or lost their job due to coronavirus (which includes large numbers of people from the events, hospitality and leisure industries) saw their mental health and wellbeing decline more than those whose employment status did not change, with three quarters (73 per cent) of these respondents reporting lower than average wellbeing scores compared to two thirds (66 per cent) of those whose employment didn’t change.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused exceptionally challenging and worrying times for each and every one of us. The effects of social distancing, lockdown, the loss of loved ones to the virus and the over-consumption of stress-inducing media reports is taking a huge toll on our mental health and wellbeing; and will continue to have lasting effects long after lockdown is over.

Prioritising mental health has never been more critical than it is now. New mental health problems have developed as a result of the pandemic, and existing mental health problems have gotten worse.

As our staff in the events, hospitality and leisure industries begin to return to work there has never been a more important time to talk about mental health.

Prior to the pandemic, two in three (64%) of people reported that they had been treated in a negative way because of their mental health and 60% of people said that stigma and discrimination were as damaging, or more damaging, than the symptoms of their mental health problem.

With a significant increase in the number of people reporting experiencing poor mental health, the importance of addressing mental health in your workplace and providing adequate support has only grown.

Here are three things you can do as a leader in your organisation.

Maintaining a positive culture where people feel able to talk about their mental health.

This is more important now than ever as employees are likely to be experiencing a range of different interconnected issues; including money worries, caring for others, but also increased feelings of loneliness and isolation due to social distancing. Organisations should start by creating a mental health plan for this period as a clear indication to staff of the importance of mental health and wellbeing at this time. This could build upon a plan you already have, or be a new plan that is flexible during these unique times. 

This plan should include:

  • how you will promote the wellbeing of all staff
  • how you will tackle the work-related causes of mental health problems, including routinely taking stock of the wellbeing of your staff
  • how you will support staff experiencing poor mental health
  • how you will promote a positive work/life balance
  • signposting to relevant sources of information and support both inside and outside your organisation
  • offering clear guidance around what is expected of employees during this period
  • acknowledging that this period is difficult for all staff to go through.

Use Wellness Action Plans as a tool for sharing mental health support needs

This is an uncertain and worrisome time for many, so some of your staff may need additional support. Wellness Action Plans (WAPs) are an easy, practical tool that can support the mental health of employees by providing a framework to reflect on the triggers of their poor mental health, what activities support their mental health and what strategies they might adopt to minimise poor mental health. 

Everyone can complete a WAP and by encouraging your staff to complete a Wellness Action Plan you can reinforce the message that we all have mental health and empower employees to take an active role in managing their own wellbeing. 

If your employees already have a WAP then it would be helpful to review in light of recent developments and changes. We have also developed a new WAP for employees who are working from home in response to the coronavirus to use – you can access it here.

Continue the conversation on digital platforms

Time to Change offers a wide range of digital materials including social media assets, postcards, email signatures and short videos that can support your organisation to continue to raise awareness of the importance of mental health problems and in addressing mental health stigma. You can find their library of digital resources here.

You can also find a range of activities designed to address mental health stigma in workplaces on the Time to Change website here, a number of which have been created to be delivered via digital platforms or can be easily adapted.

Time to Change will be delivering a session at the EventWell Digital Summit on Tuesday 14 July on the use of wellness action plans and other tools to support staff during this challenging time.

You can read Mind’s report, The Mental Health Emergency, on the Mind website and find out more about how you can address workplace stigma by visiting the Time to Change website.


AUTHOR

Andrew Berrie (UK)

Andrew Berrie, Time to Change Employer Programme Manager

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