Leadership considerations this World Mental Health Day

What affects has COVID-19 had on mental health in the workplace in 2020?

Mental ill-health has increased during COVID-19, with research showing that these conditions are at least twice as prevalent than they were in March 2020.

This World Mental Health Day (Saturday, 10 October), leading workplace mental health and wellbeing provider, AccessEAP, is encouraging workplaces to consider the positive effects they can have on this current concerning issue.

“Workplaces have a unique opportunity to support the mental health of business leaders and employees,” says Marcela Slepica, Clinical Services Director at AccessEAP.

Here, Marcela is joined by Fabian Morgan, Managing Director of Ardex Australia and James Pollock, CEO of Academy Services, to discuss the current professional mental health landscape that will help you and your executive keep company members safe and healthy in the workplace.

No one is unaffected

“We’ve been helping our employees to learn to cope with a range of issues that could affect mental health during COVID-19, including isolation for those working from home. There is a myriad potential personal issues to contend with from health concerns and fears for at-risk family members, to household income worries if their partner has lost their job. It’s important for workplaces to be active and understanding now more than ever,” adds James.

“It’s important to remember that just because a business is doing well, doesn’t mean that its staff are unaffected,” adds Fabian.

No two experiences are the same

Recent research shows those most worried about contracting COVID-19 were more likely to report clinically significant symptoms of depression and anxiety. The impact of the recession also contributes to mental health impacts as people worry about their financial security.

When looking at the states, perhaps unsurprisingly, Victorian residents were more likely than others to experience a high adverse impact of the restrictions. As were those on front-line jobs including healthcare.

“People in jobs that require direct or indirect contact with others, such as cleaning, understandably have a heightened concern of contracting COVID-19. It’s vital therefore to have clear health and safety policies and guidance in place to reassure staff that their health is paramount to the business.”

Action should be led at the top

“Bosses need to make a long-term and genuine commitment to supporting staff in the good times, so they know the business will look after them in the bad times,” says Fabian.

Supporting mental health also makes good business sense adds Marcela: “All businesses should be driven by a duty of care for their teams, but the side effects of doing so can also help a business operate. Research shows that companies see an average return of $2.30 for every $1 they spend on effective workplace mental health strategies from a range of beneficial outcomes including increased productivity and loyalty.

“At AccessEAP we offer a range of in person and virtual counselling options and mental wellbeing services from expert psychologists. This World Mental Health Day, I hope organisations will take time to consider their teams’ unique experiences of COVID-19 and question what they can do to make a difference today and throughout the year,” Marcela concludes.