Intelligent CXO Issue 07 | Page 37


Mental health in the workplace : A renewed focus

Mental health and its place in the office have become increasingly important throughout the last 18 months . A recent YouGov polled , commissioned by Acas , stated over a third of businesses thought employee mental health support had got better since the start of the pandemic . Francoise Woolley , Head of Mental Health and Well-being , at Acas , delves further into the results and highlights what exactly support managers need to provide their employees .

In a recent YouGov poll , commissioned by Acas , over a third of businesses reported that employee mental health support had improved since the start of the pandemic . While this is encouraging , half of employers reported that support had stayed the same , and for nearly one in 10 it was worse , indicating that there is still some way to go .

So why is the promotion of positive mental health in the workplace so important and why is it even more so at this time ? Pre-pandemic figures indicated that work-related stress , depression or anxiety accounted for 51 % of all work-related ill health and 55 % of all days lost due to work-related ill-health ( HSE , 2020 ). In addition , it is estimated that poor mental health among employees ’ costs UK employers £ 42 billion to £ 45 billion each year ( Deloitte , 2020 ). As well as reducing sickness absence , supporting mental health and well-being in the workplace can reduce staff turnover , increase productivity as well as improve team collaboration and morale .
Move forward a year and a half , and the business case is even more plain to see as the ‘ shadow pandemic ’ of mental health is widely reported with incidents of depression more than doubling pre-pandemic to early 2021 ( ONS ). a deterioration in mental health associated with the increase in unemployment and concern about job prospects . There has also been a more significant impact on some sectors where we have seen frontline workers , including those in health and social care , reaching burnout .
Many of the building blocks for good mental health have been unsteadied during the pandemic ; notably ‘ good work ’ which includes , job security , safe and healthy workplaces and manageable workload demands . Along with continued uncertainty , this has led to a focus on people ’ s personal resilience as they navigate these stressors .
Francoise Woolley , Head of Mental Health and Well-being , at Acas
The subjective impact
While the psychological impact of the pandemic is still unravelling , there is evidence that some groups have been more impacted than others . The pandemic has brought to the forefront many social and economic inequalities in society and disproportionately impacted those from ethnic minority groups . Those with pre-existing mental and physical health conditions have also been significantly affected . Young workers have seen
Organisational resilience has also been in focus with some organisations , particularly small to medium sized enterprises , having no option other than to operate in ‘ survival mode ’ for the last 18 months .
Acas helpline staff have listened to heartbreaking situations from both employees and employers . A significant increase in calls regarding redundancies to its helpline were taken in the height of the pandemic , with an inevitable
www . intelligentcxo . com