Mental Health at the epicentre of the pandemic

The World Health Organisation states that fear, worry, and stress are normal responses to perceived or real threats, and uncertainty. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, faced with the fear of contracting the virus, the uncertainty around when the pandemic would end and the on-going frustrations due to the restricting our freedom of movement in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus, has led to an increasing number of people being stressed out.

This reality has shaken the way we live and the way we work; society has been significantly transformed. We are now faced with new realities of working from home, parents having to juggle home-schooling their children with work, reduced mobility, and lack of physical interaction with family members, friends and colleagues. These changes have only helped to exacerbate the mental health issues that already existed in society. Indeed, one in four people will be affected by mental health issues at some point in their lives. This is a high ratio.

Newable recognises that mental ill health and stress are associated with many of the leading causes of disease and disability in our society. Mental health issues can vary from anxiety and depression to severe mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. The 2020 Health and wellbeing report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) states that three-fifths of organisations had seen an increase in reported common mental health conditions among employees in that year.

We are committed to encouraging a healthier and happier workplace and believe in promoting good mental health and providing support to people who are experiencing mental ill health so that they can still succeed at work with the right support in place. We are however, also very aware of the stigma that can exist on this subject, hence our decision to actively increase awareness on the topic in order to break the silence and build a more open and inclusive culture.

Few practical steps to break the stigma at Newable

We have implemented an on-going Health and Wellbeing Programme to support the financial, physical and mental health and wellbeing of our staff. This includes providing a team of dedicated Mental Health First Aiders because we understand the importance of having a point of contact for anyone who may be struggling with their mental health and wellbeing not only at work, but also outside work, in line with our policy to encourage our employees to bring their whole selves to work. Our Mental Health First Aiders are trained to provide initial support through non-judgemental listening and guidance and to signpost the person to get appropriate help through charities and organisations, as well as our Employee Assistance Programme, which provides a 24-hour Confidential Helpline and six free counselling sessions fully paid by Newable. The EAP and counselling services are regularly communicated to employees by the HR team or the CEO to raise awareness and facilitates access.

Relevant health and wellbeing resources, such as self-care routine, healthy diet, relaxation and sleep resources are promoted on our intranet Mynewable. We delivered training sessions for staff and managers to equip them to spot early signs of mental health issues and have difficult conversations around the subject. We went a step further during the pandemic reviewed target driven roles to ensure the work had realistic targets and deadlines, promoted work-life balance and offered flexible working arrangements.

A lot more needs to be done, however we believe that together we can break the stigma!