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An open letter to employers for Mental Health Day

8 October 2017 / Employee Experience

The 10th of October marks World Mental Health Day, and it’s an important observance for business leaders.

80% of workers feel strained on the job. And in the US alone, the total cost adds up to USD $300 billion in lost productivity, according to The American Institute of Stress.

To increase awareness of mental health on (and beyond) the day, Dr David Batman – a member of the Science Advisory Board at Virgin Pulse Institute; as well as a registered occupational health consultant with expertise in psychological health – has an open message for employers …

 “I have been practicing as a specialist in Occupational Medicine for 30 years and serve on the Science Advisory Board for Virgin Pulse.

“In my consultations with employees and colleagues, I’ve never seen this consistent level and depth of stress and worry about economic and political change, and the potential for future impact.

 There is a sense that the world around us is rapidly changing and the jobs and systems we all thought would sustain us no longer work as we were told they would.

“A feeling of uncertainty, a loss of control, is a universal cause of job stress. When you feel powerless, you’re prey to anxiety and depression’s traveling companions, helplessness and hopelessness.

 “As employers, it is important to communicate what we can.  This will reduce the range and number of things that are uncertain. Focusing on what is known will reduce stress, even if you can’t completely remove uncertainty.

 “Building up people’s resilience may seem like an obvious choice. It is increasingly rising to the top of the list for employers who believe toughening up their workforce is the answer to handling change.

However, ‘What is a Good Day at Work’ research found that a worrying 27% of people say work brings them down, and 10% of people don’t even have one good day at work a week. These statistics make it clear that simply getting people to toughen up is a far too black and white approach. 

 “Creating a positive wellbeing culture that incorporates both physical and mental health can be an anchor in these times of continual and uncertain change. When employees feel supported and understood, and wellbeing at work is high and visible on the agenda, they will become increasingly resilient and adaptable. This will allow them to thrive despite uncertainty and respond more positively to change. And surely that’s what every employer desires – a workforce that has the energy and motivation to learn new skills, take on new ideas and challenges and continue to deliver business results despite change.”

For a complete stress action plan, download our whitepaper, Stress: identify and improve the hidden workplace threat.

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