Tuesday 10 October marked World Mental Health Day, a day aimed at talking about mental health and demonstrating to everyone that mental health matters. This year’s theme for the day was ‘mental health is a universal human right’, which aligns with the messages of many workplace mental health strategies.
As ever, as an awareness day approaches, we at Employee Benefits receive numerous press releases on the subject as myriad organisations reach out to support the event and raise awareness of issues relating to this. Ahead of World Mental Health Day, one such release from MHR stood out, with research suggesting that nearly 80% of the employees surveyed do not believe their employer when it promotes or discusses the mental health initiatives it offers.
As a general rule, in recent years, we have seen numerous organisations make great strides in their provision of mental wellbeing support. What was once regarded as something of a taboo subject is now openly discussed by many employers, which have put initiatives in place to safeguard and support employees’ mental wellbeing.
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Obviously, the above research is just a snapshot and not indicative of widely-held views across the industry, but it is still interesting that such a perception exists at all. So, what is behind the stats suggesting that, for some employees, these initiatives are missing the mark? Are some organisations merely paying lip service to mental wellbeing by introducing initiatives but not encouraging staff to make use of them? Or does more work need to be done to overcome the perception that there is a stigma attached to seeking such support?
In order to maximise their return on investment in such initiatives and ensure their workforce is gaining maximum value from these, employers will need to invest time and resources in ensuring their employees are aware of what is available and that they feel comfortable using the support on offer. In some organisation, no matter how well intentioned, this may require a significant cultural shift or addressing mis-held beliefs in the workplace.
Whatever the reason, if an employer is prepared to invest in supporting employees’ mental health, ensuring staff are aware of, and feel comfortable accessing, these benefits is key to achieving the best possible outcome. Events such as World Mental Health Day may provide the impetus needed to begin such conversations.