Mental Health – Why Mental Health is one of the most important aspects of Business Survival today
28th September 2020
By Desiree Anderson and Jane Graham
“Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up.” Brene Brown
This quote seems particularly important since the pandemic where we all continue to feel uncertain as a human race. As leaders we also feel particularly vulnerable as we are responsible for getting the wheels of industry turning again to produce livelihoods for ourselves and others in the UK.
As leaders we need to understand how we and our teams “show up” and also “own up” to issues we may be experiencing mentally. Research shows that particularly now since Coronavirus, mental health issues are on the rise.
MENTAL HEALTH is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community”
World Health Organisation, 2014
Research by the WHO 2020 shows that people have predictably experienced higher distress since the pandemic and that previously vulnerable groups such as those with pre-existing mental health conditions, women with children of school-age, trans, those with pre-existing medical conditions and those from BAME groups have been worst affected.
This trend indicates an important need for organisations to implement practices, policies and support systems for mental health especially with changing patterns of work and increased global competition. Multiple work-life demands, increased isolation and blurring of boundaries heighten risk of burnout and lower discretionary effort and engagement.
Generally this is where an adverse behaviour becomes amplified, changes or prevents an individual, team and organisation from doing what is important. This can result in severe debilitation and could lead to disability in individuals. It may also cause burnout and conflict in organisations.
A startling statistic: 12.7% of absence in the UK was attributed to Mental Health issues even prior to the pandemic MHF, 2019
The aim needs to be to encourage an optimal WELLBEING culture to tackle persistent functional impairment before it becomes severe. As leaders in the wake of the pandemic we need to place higher emphasis on the wellbeing of our teams. Based on the feedback we have received from our clients, we would wager that mental health becomes one of the key pillars of business success in the future.
Symptoms of poor mental health in the workplace can result in higher absence, turnover, more reports of stress, lowered performance, more complaints and grievances, poor customer satisfaction and disinterest/lack of concentration of team members in their roles.
As a result of the pandemic and the incredible changes it has brought about, we have all been affected in some way. According to research by Forbes (2020) one of the key shifts that leaders can make is to be open about their own mental health struggles. This will pave the way for employees to be more open about talking and sharing issues around wellbeing.
Ultimately it could be argued that we are all somewhere on the Kubler-Ross Change Continuum, shown below.
In addition to discussing mental health openly, some of the ways we as leaders can encourage a wellbeing culture are:
- Encourage informal social interaction
- Encourage physical exercise even for remote meetings e.g. Have a meeting whilst walking
- Technology free days or days to work on specific projects
- Mentoring/buddy system
- One to ones
- Learning & Development
- Allow everyone an input
- Regular check-ins
- Diversity in terms of group and encouraging different opinions
Nurturing a culture of acceptance and understanding will go a long way to helping ourselves and others admit our vulnerability. As leaders we can then offer tangible help as we walk the journey with our people in this brave new world.