World Mental Health day this year (10 October) feels more relevant and necessary than ever. The world over, 2020 has been a tough year, particularly for people living with mental health issues. Research has shown that almost 80% of people living with mental illness have reported that Covid-19 has made their mental health worse.
We know that being mentally healthy can support us to make the most of our potential, equip us to cope with whatever comes our way and allow us to play the fullest part in our family, social and professional lives. We have as a society made good progress in finding more effective ways to raise and talk about mental health in recent years but there is still clearly a long way to go. Physical and mental health are still treated differently, when they are equally as important as each other and, of course, closely linked.
Taking in the whole picture
When we think about mental health I think it helps to consider the big picture. This applies to instances of mental illness as well as to our efforts to address and understand it. Where someone is living with poor mental health, obviously it affects them primarily, but the ripples of its impact can also be felt by many other people in their lives – their family, friends and colleagues and all the people who care most deeply about them. It isn’t, or should not be thought of as, an isolated event affecting just one person.
From an employer’s perspective, taking a step back can also be instructive when it comes to addressing this challenge. We are learning that mental wellbeing is made up of the right balance of many different factors in many areas of our lives. For employers seeking to support their staff, this can mean understanding that contributing positively to the mental health challenge is about so much more than focusing on just one issue or one type of support. It requires nurturing a company culture that supports all parts of an employee’s life inside and outside of work.
Reach out for resources
Thinking practically, there are plenty of resources available online to support employers and provide ideas for how they can best look after their workforce and equip them to look after themselves. The Mental Health At Work charity has specific pages dedicated to mental health in the financial sector and the legal sector.
The Mind mental health charity also offers useful and considered guidance both for individual employees in maintaining mental health at work and for employers in taking care of their staff. As their website reminds us, “starting a conversation about mental health doesn’t have to be difficult.”
How we’re marking World Mental Health day
At the beginning of the pandemic outbreak, we rolled out a programme to promote mental wellbeing amongst our teams and supported them fully in working from home.
We also gathered feedback from all staff and analysed and acted on the results at board level.
This Friday (9th), ahead of World Mental Health Day on Saturday, we are inviting our team to finish work early and encouraging everyone to spend the time doing something that’s good for their mental health, be it exercise, meditation, cooking, being creative – whatever works for them. We’re acknowledging the important role that self-care plays in good mental health.
We have also randomly paired up all of our team members and they will be invited to set up a phone call during the week to chat to their colleague about any topic they like in support of their mental health. Conversation and communication are a firm first step towards mental wellbeing.
No one person can solve the mental health challenge but we can all do our bit to move things forward. What will you do? Happy World Mental Health Day.