Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from 10th to 16th May this year. It’s an opportunity for people across the UK to talk about mental health and focus on improving their mental wellbeing.
As well as individuals taking the time to focus on their mental health, organisations can use this opportunity to assess their approach to mental health in the workplace. While supporting mental health and wellbeing of the workforce is always a priority, Mental Health Awareness Week offers the chance to start open conversations and look for ways to improve the support structures in place.
Ultimately, it is the responsibility of all organisations to create a supportive and inclusive environment that promotes individuals’ physical and mental wellbeing. After all, employees who feel supported and understood are happier at work and more likely to fulfil their potential.
City Mental Health Alliance
At NTT DATA, we are committed to providing the best possible experience for our employees, and promoting good mental health and wellbeing throughout the company is key to achieving this goal. To strengthen our commitment to improving mental health company-wide, we recently participated in the annual Thriving at Work Assessment Survey of its members.
The CMHA is a not-for-profit membership organisation that works with businesses to create mentally healthy workplaces. It was set up by Poppy Jaman, a leading government adviser on mental health and founder of the Mental Health First Aid England. The organisation brings together senior business leaders, HR professionals, and leaders in wellbeing and D&I, as well as mental health experts and people with lived experience.
With an emphasis on the sharing of knowledge and mutual support, members of the CMHA work together to improve mental health in the workplace. They are assessed against the organisation’s ten standards of good practice, including building mental health awareness in the workforce and routinely monitoring employee mental health and wellbeing. In taking steps to meet these standards, NTT DATA will be joining likeminded businesses in promoting good mental health across the workforce.
Impact of the pandemic
While managing mental health in the workplace is always a challenge, the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing difficulties. Support networks have been broken and people have had to adapt rapidly to sudden changes in routine. We have yet to understand exactly how the pandemic has affected the population, but initial studies point to an adverse impact on mental health, including an increase in the proportion of people experiencing suicidal thoughts from 8% in April 2020 to 13% in February 2021.
The events of the last year inspired this year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week. The theme ‘nature’ was chosen because enjoying the outside world has been a welcome reprieve for many people throughout the pandemic. Research by the Mental Health Foundation showed going for walks was one of the top coping strategies for people over the last year, and 45% of people reported that being in green spaces has been vital for their mental health.
For organisations looking to better support their employees’ mental wellbeing, the impact of the last year must be considered. The CMHA provides resources to help businesses support employees, from those who have been bereaved to those who have struggled to adapt to remote working conditions. Addressing these concerns will be crucial in aiding the workforce’s transition to the ‘new normal’, post-pandemic.
Over recent years, and during the last year in particular, mental health has become more visible and more openly discussed than ever before. We should use this opportunity to reassess corporate priorities and drive investment in employee wellbeing. With the right approach and measures in place, organisations can take the lead in creating a healthier and happier workforce.
At NTT DATA, we strive to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all our employees. With the guidance and support of the CMHA, we look forward to focusing on mental health as a key part of building this supportive workplace environment.