Are Workplaces Doing Enough for Mental Health in a Post-Covid Era?

(image: Mateus Campos Felipe at Unsplash)

The global coronavirus pandemic brought mental health and personal wellbeing to the forefront of our working life. As more companies return to the office, employers need to think about whether or not they are doing enough to make mental health in the workplace a priority. We speak to consumer finance startup, CapitalBean.com, to get some insight.

Workplace Mental Health Post-Covid

“The coronavirus pandemic highlighted serious concerns regarding mental health and personal wellbeing,” explains Richard Allan of Capital Bean.

“With ongoing uncertainty and a heightened sense of risk, it could be argued that we were experiencing an unprecedented global mental health crisis, often with no end in sight.” 

From a workplace perspective especially, many workers were facing uncertainty regarding their job stability, redundancies and, for some, navigating an entirely new way of working and interacting with colleagues.”

“In response, many companies started to take employee mental health more seriously and implement frameworks and best practices; however, now that we are returning to normal and trying to leave Covid-19 in the past, what is the extent to which companies are keeping up with their commitment to employee mental health?”

The Return to the Office

During the Covid 19 pandemic, the majority of workers were learning how to do their jobs remotely. This presented a range of new challenges to navigate and loneliness was widely reported. Not only were people missing the daily social interactions with their colleagues, but they were also finding the blurred lines between home life and work life difficult to navigate – with people’s homes doubling up as their offices, many workers were finding it difficult to switch off and reported working more hours. 

Now that people are starting to return to the office, after adjusting to nearly three years of remote working, they are being faced with new challenges. People are finding the return to work difficult and reporting a great deal of anxiety regarding social interaction. In addition, after working from home, they are now having to juggle their home commitments alongside going to the office. Whether it is squeezing in laundry, balancing childcare, or even factoring in an extra hour for the commute, the return to the office is proving more difficult than expected for many and is causing stress and anxiety for some. Others prefer working from home, so there is a balance.

The Employer’s Role

Millions of workers are returning to the office or workplace with changed attitudes and new expectations. In order to attract and retain talent, it is important for employers to acknowledge this and respond empathetically. Many companies have included mental health in their promises to employees on return to the office but now it is their time to demonstrate that this is not merely lip service. 

Employers need to proactively introduce programmes that are promoting workplace mental wellbeing and help employees with the challenges that they are facing. It is important for workplaces to create a psychologically safe space for workers and welcome conversations surrounding mental health and support.

(image: Luis Villasmil at Unsplash)

The Great Resignation And Mental Health at Work

After the pandemic, more people than ever before started evaluating their working life and what their main priorities were. With new focus on mental wellbeing and work-life balance, workers started to question what their expectations were and what they required from their place of work. The great resignation, the mass exodus of millions of workers in 2021, left employers having to think about what they needed to offer workers to not only attract talent initially, but retain it. 

 Workers who were asked about the great resignation pinpointed lack of workplace communication, sense of belonging, employee-manager relationship and toxic environments all as reasons to leave their jobs. 

In a post-Covid era (and what should have been before this), it will fall to the employer to make sure their staff feel looked after, not just financially but also emotionally.

Employers need to make their employees feel like they are taken care of, respected and acknowledged, and that their personal wellbeing and mental health is a top priority. Going forward, this will be more important for jobseekers than free office lunches or staff drinks.

We all have mental health and it is vital this is acknowledged and cared for, and not ignored in the workplace.

This article contains links to partner organisations.

Covid 19: Positive and Negative for Mental health and Work? Guest blog by Danielle Strouther

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(image: morefamousquotes.com)

 

For anyone that’s suffering from anxiety, OCD or other mental health conditions, living through a pandemic is not a walk in the park. 

A time of crisis is enough to cause panic in anyone. If you’re already struggling with a ‘normal’ day, the added stress means it’s even more difficult to keep your head above water. 

But, it might not all be bad news. Using mental health data commissioned by Adzooma, there may be some light at the end of this tunnel. 

 

Why we should care about mental health

COVID-19 is a pandemic, with just under 500,000 people affected around the world as of March 26th 2020. 

To put things into perspective, mental health currently affects 676 million people worldwide. It’s not a pandemic, it’s an epidemic.

Mental health isn’t contagious. You don’t contract depression from shaking hands with someone that has it. But it is a crisis that’s often overlooked. In fact, 70-75% of people with mental illness receive no treatment at all, choosing to remain silent. This is particularly true in men, who make up 75% of all suicides. In the UK, men aged 40-49 have the highest suicide rates in the country.

 

Mental health caused 44% of all sick days 

1 in 5 employees have called in sick to avoid work. And no, this wasn’t because they simply didn’t want to go. It’s because their mental health had become too much for them to do their job. 

Rather than be honest, 90% of people lied about it, using another reason for their absence. 

In 2019, there were 602,000 total cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety in the UK. That’s 44% of all health-related sick days.

The cost of this is projected to be between £39.4 billion to £99 billion each year for businesses. If you break this down, it can cost employers £1,300 per employee if they don’t have the mental health support in place for their staff. 

“My mental health has impacted my work. It’s caused me to leave jobs, to call out some days when it’s just too much for me to do normal day to day activities. I also have tried to go into work on days where I’m not 100% and my quality of work and productivity have suffered.”

Rhea – Via Adzooma. 

 

69% of people say working at home helps with mental health

Here’s the light at the end of the tunnel. According to research, 69% of people believe that working at home improves their mental health.

Around the world, offices are shutting en-masse, sending entire workforces to complete their jobs from the comfort of their own homes. If there’s ever a time that people needed space to focus on their mental health this would be it. 

Its given employees the space they need to recover mentally. Beyond that, it’s showing employers that their business is capable of functioning remotely.

The positive outcome of this is that hopefully after the COVID-19 crisis, we can set up a world where employees aren’t needed in an office every day. A world where employees are free to work at home and care more for their mental health – reducing office-based overheads and the cost of sick days. 

 

Astonishing mental health data

The data on mental health was complied by interviewing employees of a range of digital marketing and technology companies, including Google, Facebook and The Independent. It revealed stark information about the current state of mental health, such as: 

  • 67.9% of people state that their mental health has impacted their work. 
  • 57.5% of people state that work has a negative impact on their mental health. 
  • Only 32.1% of people have told their employer about their mental health. 
  • Of the 67.9% of people staying silent on mental health, 83.3% of them don’t plan on ever telling their employer. 
  • 66% pf people feel that their work is understanding about their mental health. 
  • But 46% of people feel like they don’t have enough mental health support at work. 
  • 90.4% of people believe working flexible hours can help with mental health. 
  • Only 24.4% of people have mental health first-aiders at their work. 
  • 91.7% of people believe there should be more services for mental health.
  • 89.9% of people think the government doesn’t do enough to support mental health. 
  • Only 28.6% of people currently access mental health services. 
  • But if more services were available to them, 66.7% would access them. 

Access the full data here. 

 

A push for positive change 

One of the best things to come of out the COVID-19 pandemic is people working together. 

Communities are being brought closer and we’re showing compassion and offering help in brand new ways. If you’re ever unsure of that, just watch a video of people coming together to applaud everyone who’s working to stop the virus every single night. It’s a wonderful show of camaraderie. 

It’s a global crisis and we’re in it together. Now, hopefully, we can carry on this momentum to help with mental health and continue the fight for better mental health support. 

With support, we can get better. We can push for positive change to help the crisis. Without support, it will only get worse.

Together, let’s take action and break the silence.

 

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This guest blog was written by Danielle Strouther. She is currently writing lots of words about all kinds of unique subjects at Adzooma and searching for a word she likes more than discombobulated. She has a masters in Film and Television, so can tell people she knows what’s good on Netflix.