While lockdown restrictions are continuing to ease, certain changes to the way we work – such as widespread remote working – look set to become a permanent fixture in some capacity. With the workplace still in a state of flux and many employees still feeling the emotional impact of the current pandemic, now is the perfect time for businesses to take assertive steps to remove the stigma attached to workplace mental health issues. This is according to data and information management expert Aiimi.
Lockdown has shone a spotlight on mental health in a way that few other events in recent years have done. Social isolation has been difficult for many, while anxieties around Covid-19 continue to prevent others from leading a normal, fulfilled life.
Steve Salvin, CEO at Aiimi said, “the last few months have been a time of emotional upheaval for all of us. Whether it’s the feelings of loneliness brought on by a lack of social contact, worries about our health or finances, or a general weariness with lockdown and everything that comes with it, we’ve all felt it.
“As a result, many of us have become much more aware of our own mental health and the need to look after it, so there’s a real opportunity now for business leaders to continue to comprehensively break down the stigma attached to workplace mental health and ensure a healthy working environment in the long term. We’ve all had to be adaptable in the way we work in the last few months, so we should continue to take advantage of this transformational mood when we can.”
To ensure this mental health evolution continues apace, Steve believes that companies should now be prepared to invest in employee wellbeing way beyond anything considered ‘normal’ in the past. This should encompass not just flexibility for those who want to continue working from home or need to manage childcare, but also meaningful actions to address deep-rooted issues.
Steve added, “maintaining a sense of flexibility for the foreseeable future will be key as the economy gradually gets back on its feet. Those who want to carry on with home working should be allowed to do so based on their own preferences and circumstances, but there are many other things that leaders should be doing too.
“Essentially, it’s about removing the barriers to getting help when it is needed: there should be as many avenues as possible through which support can be accessed. We’ve seen great take-up at Aiimi for the Health Assured service we subscribe to, which offers employees access to online mental health resources and confidential telephone counselling.
“Other ways of encouraging people to open up about their struggles include promoting an open dialogue between colleagues, where they can discuss their mental health challenges if they are comfortable doing so. Training to help employees spot problems in their colleagues can also be hugely beneficial, as can assisting workers in looking after their physical fitness through the expansion of initiatives such as gym memberships and free personal training sessions.
“We’re in a unique position now where businesses are having to be more malleable than ever before. Now is the time to use this momentum to build a positive legacy and a better future for workplace mental health.”