­­­Kavitha’s keynote: Mental health must be a priority

Kavitha’s keynote: Choosing to challenge

With Mental Health Awareness Week beginning on Monday (10 May), it is disheartening to discover mental health is not a “cultural priority” for 43% of employers, according to new research.

The report by Koa Health found that this admission came despite 56% of organisations having witnessed a rise in demand for mental health support from their staff.

Meanwhile, another study highlighted a dramatic drop in the use of flexible working hours since the start of the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

The research, carried out by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), concluded that while home working had risen, other forms of flexible working had fallen. This included flexi-time, compressed hours, and part-time hours, which were used less, primarily because more people are now working from home.

What is worrying about these findings is that employees who can’t work from home may well be missing out on other flexible hours arrangements that could help them better manage their responsibilities outside work, such as childcare or other caring duties. It also creates division and inequality between employees who can do their jobs away from the workplace and those who can’t.

While recognising the impact flexibility can have on motivation, retention, and productivity, the CIPD also acknowledged its effect on employee wellbeing – which, of course, incorporates mental health.

And on the subject of health, we also reported earlier this week that the UK had been rated the third worst in Europe for sick pay. Only Malta and Ireland were ranked lower.

Offering just £96.35 per week for 28 weeks, the UK was far behind Iceland, which ranked the best and where the minimum percentage of salary employers could give to staff was 100%.

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At a time when employees value health benefits more than ever, employers should rise to the demand and be in no doubt that mental health, in particular, absolutely must be a cultural – and business – priority.

Kavitha Sivasubramaniam
Tweet: @kavithasiva_EB