World Mental Health Day has been celebrated on 10 October each year since 1992. It was designed to be an international day which would promote mental health advocacy, educate the public, raise awareness and try to prevent the stigma which is still often associated with mental health issues. Last week, Thomson Reuters announced a permanent company-wide holiday to recognise World Mental Health Day.
Mental health is central to everyone’s well-being and it is important to recognise that these issues can affect anyone. In any given year, one in four of us will experience a mental health problem of some kind. This year’s Mental Health Awareness Day comes at a time when many people have been feeling the particular impact of the COVID-19 situation. This year’s theme, “Mental Health for all”, recognises that these impacts have been felt by everyone. Challenges have come in many forms, such as providing childcare while working from home; going to work with the fear of bringing COVID-19 home; livelihoods being threatened; or coping with the isolation that comes with social distancing. During the coronavirus lockdown, 49% of the population had feelings of anxiety or worry and, with reduced social interaction, more than one in five felt lonely.
It is recognised that workplaces have a massive impact on mental health. Estimates suggest that anxiety and depression cause one fifth of days lost from work in Britain, with one in seven people experiencing mental health issues at work. However, many employers have been making great strides in recognising and tackling this issue. There are many simple steps that employers can take, such are raising awareness of mental health issues and creating a culture where employees can talk openly about them. Some organisations have introduced mental health champions who are experienced in dealing with these issues. ACAS has produced guidance on promoting positive mental health at work, which contains some useful information and can be found here (https://archive.acas.org.uk/media/3384/Promoting-positive-mental-health-in-the-workplace/pdf/Promoting_positive_mental_health_in_the_workplace.pdf).
Resources relating to World Mental Health Day from the Mental Health Foundation can be found here.