How can workplaces support employee wellbeing post-pandemic?
10th October is the day that the World Health Organisation recognises World Mental Health Day and the theme this year is to ‘make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority’.
Post-pandemic, we are now – mercifully – returning to social scenarios and workplaces that are much more like ‘normal’. Covid 19 is something we can hopefully all, in time, move on from, but the full effects of the pandemic on the world’s mental health are, as yet, unknown.
Important research is ongoing
Studies into long Covid are ongoing, but recent research by UK mental health charity Mind* found that those who were more likely to struggle with their mental health before the pandemic have been most affected, with around a third of adults and young people saying their mental health has got ‘much worse’ since March 2020 – with specific issues such as understanding effective coping mechanisms, loneliness and non-specific anxiety disorders counting among the various challenges faced.
In terms of ensuring there is a continued global focus on mental wellbeing post-pandemic, encouraging dialogue around the topic and ensuring everyone has readily available support when it is needed, there is arguably nowhere more important than the workplace.
The work of NABS
NABS is the specific charity for those of us who work within the media and advertising industry. With hubs in Manchester and Scotland, they’ve been providing support and resources that are free to use for over a century – with the express aim of improving the workplaces and, in turn, the wellbeing of everyone who works in our sector. Their focus remains on prevention, to ensure advertising and media professionals are resilient and confident enough to tackle any challenges they face before they have a serious impact on lives – both professionally and personally.
NABS’ ‘How’s Work’ survey for H1 of 2022 found that mental health-related calls had increased by 128% year on year, with ‘emotional support’ (41%) and ‘financial support’ (14%) being the top two reasons cited for contacting NABS.
The charity offers expert career coaching, training and masterclasses, or if you simply want to increase your knowledge or seek advice, their professional team are available to help.
See Me in Scotland – tackling stigma around mental health
Since 2014, Space & Time has been working with the charity See Me – Scotland’s national programme to end mental health stigma and discrimination. We initially worked with the charity and their creative and web development partners to relaunch and increase visibility of their brand and services across press, radio, OOH, cinema and a variety of digital channels – and we’ve subsequently worked with them on a host of different media campaigns.
Campaign work for See Me has focused on the challenges faced by young adults, on gathering important research around mental health and – crucially – to help tackle stigma within the workplace.
How we shaped our own approach to wellbeing at work
Once we started working closely with See Me, it became clear that the charity could help us with our own approach to wellbeing at work, and our engagement with their ‘See Me in Work’ programme helped us develop and deploy our own mental health policy and strategy.
From the initial self-assessment of our organisation, gathering feedback from our employees, creating a bespoke improvement plan and delivering on this plan in order to create a positive, mentally healthy workplace.
See Me’s influence and support also impacted on how we elevated the overall dialogue around mental health, made mental health a key focus of agency communication and events – in relation to things like appointing and training mental health first aiders and champions for our regional offices, and the evolution of our approach to reasonable adjustments for anyone who has experienced mental health challenges at the agency.
To make it even easier for organisations, they’ve just created a new digital portal to help with the process.
How to support a mentally healthy workplace
Good mental health is obviously good for general wellbeing, but it’s also good for business and productivity. Work is such a significant part of many of our lives, so we should all continue to listen to the needs of colleagues and employees. By being aware that mental ill-health is something that will likely affect most of us as some point in our lives, we can ensure that we all look for – and understand – the ways to best offer support for those who need it.
If you – or anyone you know – are struggling with mental health, the following resources could be of use to you:
*Source: Mind report ‘What has the impact of coronavirus been on mental health?’ 2021