MAKE A DIFFERENCE | workplace culture / mental health / wellbeing

Employees still struggling to talk about mental health, despite pandemic raising awareness of wellbeing

New research reveals the worrying insight that, while employers have made mental health a key focus of their communications due to Covid, employees remain uncomfortable talking about it.

Two thirds (66%) of UK adults, for example, say they would not feel comfortable raising a mental health or emotional wellbeing issue at work, according to these news findings from Nuffield Health’s latest Healthier Nation Index.

This statistic is particularly concerning given that the study also revealed that 1 in 3 employees also say their mental health has got worse in the last year.

Another worrying theme thrown up by the survey of 8000 adults in the UK is that, although mental health is now a talking point at work, a third feel they are offered no physical and emotional wellbeing support by their employer. This ups their risk of feeling lonely at work, the theme of the Mental Health Foundation’s current awareness week, which often leads to a drop in productivity and engagement.

On the back of the research, and to tie in with Loneliness Week, Nuffield has launched a ‘Find Time For Your Mind’ campaign, calling on people to #find5 and spend 5 extra minutes a day exercising, focusing on their mental wellbeing and spending time with colleagues to build closer connections and create a more inclusive workplace.

The research hits home the major importance of two topics we cover regularly here at Make A Difference Media: 1) the need for employers to create psychological spaces where employees are comfortable opening up and being vulnerable and 2) the need to, not just talk about mental health, but take some tangible, practical action.

Gosia Bowling, national lead for emotional wellbeing at Nuffield Health said:

“The pandemic has affected the mental health of many employees, so it’s more important than ever that employers find ways to create inclusive and connected workplace environments where people feel supported. Not only will this help productivity, but it will also boost happiness levels.”

As Bowling says, as the workplace transitions to more hybrid and remote working patterns, it’s critical that employers find ways to keep their employees feeling connected.

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For more on why a feeling of connection is so crucial to combat loneliness, see this article:

12 Practical Pointers: How Companies Can Combat the Loneliness Crisis at Work

Forcing Employees Back to the Office, or Into Social Situations, Won’t Magically Fix the Loneliness Crisis

For more on the importance of taking action not just talking, see this:

Keynote Mental Health Awareness Week Webinar: Turning Talk into Action – How to Achieve Real Impact

For more on creating psychologically safe spaces, see this article:

Creating a Psychologically Safe Workplace